As you know by now, one of our passions at Tignum is making a High Performance Mindset tangible, realistic, and achievable. One of the ways we do this is to challenge some of the more common pep-talk phrases that are so often thrown about as if this is what a High Performance Mindset is all about. A common example of this is the phrase, “You just need to be more solution-oriented!” This phrase is often thrown out when really bad news has been delivered and you are feeling crushed.
Of course you could face this crushing news (we didn’t meet our targets, we had a data breach, we are over budget, we are downsizing, etc.) with a dose of positivity such as, “Look at the bright side, at least we still have each other.” These quips may make you laugh, which does provide a quick recovery break, but they will rarely solve the problem.
When we look at a Performance Mindset, we first break it down to the qualities, attributes, and skills that comprise it. This makes it understandable and much easier to see and achieve. When we do this, it becomes clear that many of these components are inter-related. Being solution-oriented is definitely one of these. Being solution-oriented requires that you can first control your emotions, that you can challenge your own drama (self-talk and stories), that you have the optimism and belief to feel there is a solution, that you have the curiosity and openness to look outside of what you know, that you have the courage to try the untried, that you have the energy and stamina to push through the work of creating and trying solutions, that you have the humility to accept others’ feedback and ideas, and that you have the “never quit" attitude.
One key in being solution-oriented is first to be problem-oriented. This means you have to passionately dig in to the problem to learn everything about it. Without doing this, without creating the best questions to figure out what you don’t know, you will rarely create the best solution. Start by capturing everything you know and don’t know about your problem.
Another key is to constantly remind yourself that there is always a Plan C, D, E…… The human brain has an innate tendency to look at things in black and white, either/or, Plan A or Plan B. This gets exacerbated when it is tired or under the influence of cortisol (stress hormone). When you open up your mind to other options (again through deep and often random questions), you often find the best answer wasn’t A or B and yet it was right in front of you all the time.
A big mistake too many executives make is to try to solve a problem when they are tired, hungry, and mentally fried. This is the worst time to do this. During these times it is paramount to invest in your Mindset, Nutrition, Movement, and Recovery strategies. Get up, get outside, go for a brisk walk. Get hydrated and eat a balanced snack (protein, fat, and complex high fiber carbohydrates) so your brain has the energy it needs to get to work. Don’t forget, your brain is an energy hog and nothing takes more energy than problem solving. Take a short power nap to rejuvenate your thought processes. Do a breathing technique (my go to is box breathing 4/4/4/4) to get focused and to lower your brain frequency to your most creative range. When possible, take shifts where different teams look at the problem with fresh eyes and a different perspective.
The point here is that nobody is born solution-oriented. It is a skill that can be practiced, developed, and even mastered as some of our elite clients have done. If this is something that you want to develop, go look for a problem to solve and apply this approach. As always, I’d love to hear what you think.
Founder/Chief Performance Officer