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Problem Solving. Inate? Learned?

on April 16, 2012

My take on the question is both, actually.  As I watch my 8 month old grandson I realize that he spends most of his day solving problems.  How can I get to that bright, shiny object across the room?  How can I get them to feed me?  Pick me up and the list goes on.  I see him watching, examining, assessing, thinking.  All this leads me to the conclusion that we are born to solve problems.  And some pretty complex ones at that.  Like learning to walk and talk by the time we are say 2ish.

The reason I even bring it up is because in the career transition world we hear a lot these days about the “skill gap”.  That a lot of current job seekers lack some really basic skills like the ability to communicate well, solve problems, serve customers, think critically.  I’m perplexed by that because  I think that we all have a certain amount of ability to do many if not all of the above.  The question really is what’s happened to that ability?  When did we lose the edge?  Those of us who may appear to have lost it?

Seems like when we have kids we are constantly encouraging them to keep trying; telling them “You can do it”.  “Don’t give up.”  “You can learn it.”  Then somewhere down the line either we’re not as enthusiastic as we once were with them; someone else has told them “they can’t” for whatever reason or they stop believing in themselves for some reason.  Maybe it’s a combination of things.

Our challenge is to help people rediscover their ability to solve problems, think strategically and critically, regain their natural affinity for risk taking, all that stuff that gives them the confidence to work to master even more skills and develop more of their talents.  We’re missing a great opportunity to participate in the development of others when we don’t encourage them in these areas.  For that matter sometimes we need people to encourage us too.

I guess I hate to see all that potential left untapped.  That’s what I love about coaching and training.  The opportunity to participate in helping someone else grasp their potential, develop and even maximize it in certain areas.

What’s your opinion on the problem solving question?  We’d love to chat about it.


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