General Colin Powell said in a recent interview, “I believe that leadership is the ability to solve problems.” Your ability to solve problems is the critical determinant of your success or failure in life. This ability makes you a leader in your own life. And a goal unachieved is merely a problem you have not yet solved.
You rise in life to the height of the problems that you have demonstrated an ability to solve effectively. The better you get at solving problems, the bigger and more important problems you will be given to solve. As you solve bigger and more complex problems, your prestige, respect, and rewards will increase commensurately.
The key to becoming an excellent problem solver, in what- ever field, is to think about solutions all the time. The more you think and talk about possible solutions, the more possible solutions will come to you. The more solutions you come up with, the faster and easier it becomes for you to solve even more problems in the future.
Only about 10 percent of the population thinks about solutions most of the time. The great majority think and talk about their problems, who is to blame, and what the problems are going to cost. They often feel helpless in the face of problems and wish and hope that someone else will come along and solve the problems for them.
The most important word you can learn, for the rest of your life, is the word “How?” This is the key word for problem solving and creative thinking. Whenever you have a goal that you have not yet achieved, the only question you ask is “How?” How can you achieve the goal? What are all the different things that you can do? What steps can you take immediately? What is the next step?
When you have a problem of any kind, your only question is “How?” How can we solve it? How can we overcome the obstacle? How can we resolve the difficulty, remove the road- block, or alleviate the constraint?
Any question that begins with the word “How?” stimulates your creativity. It forces you to be solution-oriented. It puts you in control of your own thinking. It gives you energy and centers you in your work. The question “How?” empowers you and puts you back in charge of the situation. All leaders think in terms of “how”.