From my perspective, this is bad advice. I want people to bring me bigger and better problems.
Or, as the fortune cookie I got recently implied (see below), if you don’t focus on the right question, the answers/solutions may be useless.
Unfortunately, most people continue to work on solutions to problems that don’t matter.
Here are some questions that will help you prioritize your thinking:
- Are you focused on what is important…or on what is urgent? Many people are “firefighting arsonists,” creating urgency in everything, even if it is not critical. A short-term mentality prevails. Make time for the important investments that will pay long-term dividends.
- Are you investing energy on activities that provide exponential returns…or linear returns? Most people rarely look for what gives them leverage. Look for partners and business models that enable you to scale your solutions.
- Are you working on what you actually can change/influence…or on what you wish could be changed? Not everything can be changed. Just because you are frustrated does not mean you should try to fix something. Trying to change others, for example, is a losing proposition. Instead change your attitude towards them.
- Do you appreciate the differences in others that complement you…or on the differences that annoy you? Contrary to conventional wisdom, opposites do not attract. We tend to focus on what we don’t like in others, instead of seeing how those attributes might actually be beneficial to us. But diversity, when viewed through the right lens, can be extremely valuable.
- Do you develop solutions that the world will value…or what you value? Some of my artist friends don’t want to “sell out.” Basically this means that they don’t want to create what others want and would rather do what they want…and remain poor.
Too often we invest our time, money, and energy (including mental energy) on things that don’t really matter or don’t produce real results.
By asking a different question you will always get a different answer. By refocusing and reframing, you can do less while getting better results.
image credit: tech.co
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Stephen Shapiro is the author of five books including “Best Practices Are Stupid” and “Personality Poker” (both published by Penguin). He is also a popular innovation speaker and business advisor.