Problem Solving: Adapting
When a problem arises, it is inherently necessary to learn how to adjust your actions and adapt to the new environment in order to succeed. Problems on the road to success can come from 2 places: either something you are doing, or something you aren’t. If we keep approaching the issue with the same angle that is currently causing it, the problem will only grow. As Albert Einstein famously said, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” On the other hand, if it stems from something we’re not doing, we can’t get over the obstacle without changing our actions and adapting to the situation. That’s why adaptation is an essential part to problem solving. No matter what, we’re going to have to make adjustments to our game plans if we want to overcome adversity.
“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”
Now that we’ve established that we need to adapt to the circumstances to solve problems, the next step is identifying whether we need to adjust/reimagine an existing system, if an entirely brand new formula is needed, or both. This is where critical thinking comes into play. Use the 3 questions we reviewed in last week’s blog, “Critical Thinking,” to locate the source of the issue. This process will also help you come up with potential solutions! Once you’ve figured out where you need to make changes, now it’s time to figure out what changes to make.
There are 3 important types of changes that we can make in order to adapt and overcome:
- Adapted Action
- Adapted Strategy
- Adapted Mindset
Chances are, making adjustments on one of these areas will better equip you to solve the problem you are facing. You may even need to address more than one of these categories, so let’s go over them all!
Adapting your actions is a great starting place for problem solving, and can take form in many ways. It can mean making improvements on a necessary skill or task to make it more efficient. Or, it can mean replacing a course of action that is not working with a brand new one. The difference, again, lies in the nature of your problem. If the problem is caused by something you are not doing, you will need to adopt an entirely new action or skill, and implement it to succeed. If something you are doing is no longer working, that is when you will need to make adjustments to fix it. Either way, this method of adaptation works great in cases where only one or a few actions are at the root of the problem. If the problem exists on a much larger scale, more than just adjusting an action may be necessary.
If the problem exists in the big picture, you will likely need to adjust your strategy as a whole in order to overcome the issue. This means that you will need to employ your critical thinking skills again, and think about a brand new angle to attack the issue at. Drastic changes to the game plan typically accompany this method of adaptation, but it’s better to jump onto a lifeboat than to sink with the ship. In other words, if the previous strategy just wasn’t working, cutting your losses and redesigning your approach will benefit you more than sticking with a malfunctioning system. This type of adapting is well-suited for team environments, where large-scale problems are more likely to exist.
Finally, adapting your mindset is perhaps the most powerful form of change. You know a change in your mindset is needed when a problem starts affecting you mentally and emotionally, or if you’ve made changes to your actions and strategies and it hasn’t been solved yet. When changing your physical approach doesn’t work, changing your mental one will. For one, our thought process plays a large role in designing our course of action, so adapting our mindset can help us with the other methods as well. But, how do you actually change your mindset? Well, it boils down to changing the way you think about something. One example of a mindset change is framing a previously negatively-associated skill or task with a positive thought process. Instead of thinking about something as too difficult, too strenuous, or impossible, think about it as an exciting challenge, a test of your limits, or possible through persistence! Adapting your mindset will be sure to help you overcome obstacles because it will provide you with a clearer mind. And with that clearer mind you can focus on creating a better way to solve the problem.
In our Classes…
In our classes this week, we will be providing our students with opportunities to learn and practice adapting to overcome problems. We will remind them when doing drills or working on forms that changing something that isn’t working is the best way to solve a problem. We also have our Green Stripe Testing starting this week, so our goal is to help turn orange stripes to green ones by showing our students how to make changes based on feedback from the environment. We want to help our children take these adapting and problem solving skills with them everywhere they go, because it will help them no matter where they are!
In conclusion, adapting to your environment is the most effective way to solve problems. Like we discussed earlier, the nature of problems requires us to change in order to overcome them. Whether you need to adapt your actions, strategy, or mindset, making changes to your approach will bring you closer to success. Don’t be afraid to make changes, because our environment is constantly changing, so we need to be as well. Just because a system worked once doesn’t mean it will work forever, and just because it got you here doesn’t mean it will get you there. So, embrace change, because it is the only constant!