If you’re as old as I am, you’ll remember the days of “typing pools.” My first corporate job at American States Insurance back in 1974, there was an entire floor dedicated to women pounding away on typewriters producing endorsement amendments, new policies, cancelations and just about anything that needed to be printed not handwritten.
Being precise was an absolute necessity. The correction tape for typewriters came out about 1975 and you can imagine the excitement! (it sounds so primitive now as I type this article on my iMac).
But something even more amazing was being invented that we still use today. All because of a bank secretary asking a better question to solve a problem she was facing.
When Faced With a Problem, Why not Solve It!
When electric typewriters became popular in the 1950’s the ribbons made it harder to erase typing errors-a problem noticed by Bette Nesmith Graham. Graham worked two jobs: bank secretary (and heavy typist) by day, commercial artist at night. One night while doing artwork, she wondered, What if I could paint over my mistakes when typing, the way I do when painting? She filled a small bottle with paint and water formula and brought it to the office. Her “miracle mixture” made it easy to cover over typing errors, and soon Graham was supplying hundreds of other secretaries with her correction fluid. The year before she died in 1980, Graham sold Liquid Paper for close to $50 million, giving half to her son, the former Monkee’s band member Mike Nesmith- who used it to fund innovations of his own at the pioneering multimedia recording company Pacific Arts. (SOURCE: Warren Berger, A More Beautiful Question)
According to an article written about Graham in July of 2018 by the NY Times, Graham was a bad typist. She had to find a better way because her typing wasn’t improving. So what did Graham do…instead of seeking to improve her typing skills because even the best typists make typo mistakes, she asked “What If..”
Run Towards Problems!
Most people don’t run towards problems as Graham did. Most people run away from them until they’re forced to solve it or they shift the responsibility to someone else to solve.
Just this week, I received a message from a follower who opined about things a company can do to create happy salespeople. To change the culture of a company is an enormous task. Maybe the better question is what can I do to create happiness for myself and others where I work? Because each of us has the power to directly impact our own happiness. When we are happy, we become an encouragement to those around us.
Here’s a recent post from my Instagram account around this very subject.
“This interior joy is also a mindset necessary for perfectly aligning with our obligations. The greater the responsibility the greater also our obligation to have peace and joy to give to others and the greater urgency of recovering the joy when it’s habitual possession has been interrupted or disturbed. How do you give joy?”
According to Carly Fiorina in her new book Find Your Way …
We cannot reach our full potential and enjoy the satisfaction of that journey, unless we invest ourselves in solving a problem somewhere.
Like my young sales rep follower, his problem was finding a company that created happy salespeople. Maybe your problem is a boss that is mostly checked out or maybe nepotism runs rampant where you’re employed. Perhaps your biggest problem is managing your finances. Whatever it is for you, if the problem keeps you up at night, then you’re the one assigned to solve it! In other words, if the problem is close to you….it’s yours to solve.
In last week’s article Help! I’m in a Rut. How to move OUT of a Sales Rut and Start Selling Again, I suggested that you …name the problems so you can start working on solutions.
When solving problems, focus on what’s in your control then find the right people to collaborate with around the areas that are outside your control.
Can my young sales rep follower initiate positive change within his employer? He sure can, by being the positive light for his boss, sales team and by taking responsibility for solving the problems he sees in his world. If the problems exist for him, they probably exist for his co-workers.
In Matthew 5:14-16
You are the light of the world. A city seated on a mountain cannot be hid. 15 Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but upon a candlestick, that it may shine to all that are in the house. 16 So let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.
Don’t let your light be hidden. Be the change for yourself and those in your world.
Steps to Solve Problems
In Carly Fiorina’s book, she lays out a Leadership Framework to follow when solving problems. I highly recommend you read her book and follow her problem-solving tools. In the meantime…
My Tips to Solve Problems
- To solve problems, you have to name the problem. Commit the problem to paper.
- What date must I have this problem solved by?
- What outcome do I need to realize?
- Can I involve others to help solve this problem? Who are they?
- How can I prioritize the steps to solving this problem and who will be assigned to each step?
- How can I measure the steps?
- What behaviors are working and not working?
- If a conflict occurs, how will it be resolved?
Here’s the beauty about solving problems…each time you solve a problem, the next one will become easier, and less fearful because you now have a roadmap and the experience to solve the next problem.
As Carly Fiorina’s says…run towards problems, not away from them!
And here’s something else you might consider running towards and that is….coaching. I’ve found many people don’t believe in themselves or their abilities until they have a coach standing next to them, giving them the tools and permission to be their best. Perhaps it’s time to check out how coaching can help you….
Just simply schedule a 30-minute complimentary strategy call. Discover how we can work together to help solve your problems. Simply complete the form below and in the message area, tell me what you’re struggling with and ask to schedule your strategy call. Why not do it now.