One of the quotes I like best from Albert Einstein is: "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them."
There are so many perspectives to this quote that we could talk about, but I will try to keep this post focused on a larger context. We all run into problems through out our lives, in our business, with friends, or any aspect of life. Whether you see something as a problem or not, you must be willing to understand that in this case a "problem" is considered to be a general word showing something that is not going the way you would prefer it to.
When you look at the definition of problem you see:
- Any question or matter involving doubt, uncertainty, or difficulty
- A question proposed for solution or discussion
- A statement requiring a solution, usually by means of a mathematical operation
- Difficult to train or guide; unruly
- Dealing with choices of action difficult either for an individual or for society
This is why I like to generalize the word more and focus on the greater meaning. Yet you will find that a lot of people that look at this quote focus on that word because their whole environment is consumed by the problem they are experiencing. They will be willing to do whatever it takes to solve the problem and remove it from their life or business. They are looking at the issue from the "problem perspective" instead of being willing to turn the situation around towards the key point of this quote, which is the other main word - thinking:
- Rational; reasoning
- Thoughtful; reflective
- Thought; judgment, reflection
How do you know most people focus on the "problem" instead of the "thinking" that gave rise to the problem? Because of the discussion that ensues afterward. All you hear is people talking about how they believe the problem can be solved - this way, or that way. People will argue over it. In fact, some will even take the disagreement toward whether the problem is really a problem or not. They will try to qualify it, define it, or even measure it against problems that they see are bigger and should be tackled first over this now "minor issue". There are a million ways to fix a problem yet people will argue over the best way. Meanwhile, the "thinking" is being ignored.
One of the reasons this happens is brain neural pathways and habitual dynamics.
Your brain forms neural pathways in regards to physical, mental, and emotional actions. The pathways develop over a lifetime and directly result in habits and how you experience life. If you don't believe me, try brushing your teeth with your other hand, responding with a positive emotion when your favorite sports team loses, or not disagreeing with someone when they provide information that is contrary to something you strongly think it correct. All this is linked to a series of pathways in your brain that are a result of actions you have taken over time, belief systems you hold, or ways that you want to live your life.
Since people live from this perspective they have a tendency to focus on the problem because that is what they see is the cause of them not having the result they want. Basically - if a problem is happening then I must fix the problem to not have it. This makes perfect sense if you are inside the problem. But step out and see things from a larger perspective and your world will change!
More and more through quantum physics and other information people agree that you become what you think about and your external environment is a direct reflection of your thoughts. I will not even talk about the ultimate personal responsibility motto of: you create every aspect of your own reality. For now I will just keep it on the pure quantum level of thoughts affect the physical world. So if you follow that line of science, does not that require you to put more focus on the "thinking" that resulted in the problem instead of trying to solve the problem?
When you focus on the thinking around that problem it allows you to understand the context, mindset, perspectives, beliefs, values, and overall mental energy that helped create the problem. Sure in one way the components of the situation will be more complex but if you start to really look at that thinking you will likely see a theme around it or at least groups of themes. Now you can actually focus efforts and solving the root of the problem - the thinking behind it.
If we look at the science of neuroplasticity we can instill real change into your environment and the problem. By changing the way the brain and thoughts interact you can create a new pathway which will result in a different results and not the same problem. One important point around neuroplasticity is synaptic pruning where weaker synaptic contacts are eliminated while stronger connections are kept and strengthened. Connections that have been activated most frequently are preserved since Neurons must have a purpose to survive. Without a purpose, neurons dies through a process called apoptosis because they did not receive or transmit information so they become damaged and die. Ineffective or weak connections are removed like a gardener would prune a tree or bush. This process allows the brain to adapt to its environment and give new thought processes.
How does all this help you solve your problem?
This new pathway forces you to look at the problem from a new perspective and show you how the old thinking resulted in it. Once you change that thinking, you must change the outcome. So now your problem is different. Sure you might not have caused it to go away but at least you are now in alignment with the law of cause and effect and working from the root of the problem. It will only be a matter of time before the right cause results in the result you are looking for.
If you elevate your thinking and start to approach life from a higher order mindset you will find that problems melt away when you encounter them. That is the power that consciousness can bring into any situation on a personal or business scale. But we will talk about that another day...