Do you spend a lot of time problem-solving? You tackle the things that are difficult, chaotic, not enough, too complex, crazy, busy, frustrating, and stuck.
You are good at problem-solving. You break a problem down into more manageable parts. You look for the smoothest path forward. You look for solutions that offer simplicity.
When we face a problem, professionals dive right in to tackle it.
Very few of us stop to ask why it’s a problem, or even IF it is a problem at all.
What makes something a problem for us? Honestly, it is only in how we describe the situation. Challenging, chaotic, not enough, complex, crazy, busy, bad, wrong, unmanageable, bumpy, frustrating, and stuck.
Notice these are all adjectives, and they generate emotions.
Who cares? When you have a problem, YOU do.
When facing a problem, get paper and pen and write the problem out in detail. Next, go back and highlight ONLY the facts. (Hint: you won’t highlight an adjective)
“Just the facts ma’am“
Our description of facts makes something a problem for us, and the adjectives we choose are OPTIONAL. Always.
Let’s look at a problem I have right now.
My kitchen counter is a disgusting mess. There are dirty dishes everywhere. It is so embarrassing!
The facts? Kitchen counter. Dishes.
Adjectives? Disgusting. Mess. Dirty. Everywhere. Embarrassing.
Notice: Not everyone agrees that the counter is disgusting, or a mess. My dog wouldn’t think of the dishes as dirty. Technically, the dishes aren’t EVERYWHERE and only I feel embarrassed.
Knowing that the adjectives are optional gives me space to decide how I want to think about the kitchen counter and dishes. I could choose to think: “There are dishes on my kitchen counter. I am going to load the dishwasher and wash them”. No problem. No drama. Done.
Do you see? Those pesky adjectives create so much DRAMA. You can choose your adjectives.
If you choose poorly, you create a negative experience for yourself. If you choose wisely, you create momentum.
Here is one I hear often when I am coaching. I bolded the facts. Notice how different adjectives create different feelings:
This project is very complex and impossible to complete on this timeline. (Creates a feeling of being overwhelmed and drives a lack of action.)
This is an important project that I want to complete on this timeline. (Creates feelings of commitment and wanting to solve.)
This is a fun project, like a puzzle, that together we can complete on this timeline. (Creates feelings of curiosity and drives activity.)
This week, spend some time noticing the adjectives your brain offers you. Don’t try to change them. Do not judge them. Get curious about them. Just notice them and ask yourself what emotion they are creating and what action that drives.
It is surprisingly powerful.
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What an interesting concept. I’m going to practice this and I’ll certainly be conscious of the use of adjectives both at work and at home.
This is inspiring! It’s good to have practical potential (whoops an adjective) solution to handling those feelings and putting the energy towards the vision of celebrating the accomplishments. I’ll give it a try!