12 Creative Ways To Solve Problems

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As long as there are people there are bound to be problems, troubles, heartaches.

According to the Arlington Institute, the world’s biggest problems are:

  • economic collapse
  • global water crisis
  • peak oil
  • rapid climate change
  • species extinction

Global Issues.Org also outline a number of serious challenges the world is facing.

Isn’t it interesting how some people are able to see problems as challenges and challenges as opportunities, while others only focus on fear, worry and trouble?

No one is immune. I mean, even when we are at our best, that does not exempt us from problems, does it?
But if that’s all you’re focused on, isn’t that all you should expect?

Knowing to handle problems is the difference between victory and defeat. If you don’t understand what issues are involved, you won’t be able to solve it.

Albert Einstein said,

It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.


Many people try to avoid problems. They are afraid of what problems represent:

  • additional responsibilities
  • discomfort
  • unwanted (even if necessary) changes

When we are overwhelmed with problems, that is when we wish more than anything for some HOPE.
I define HOPE as… Having Our Problems Eliminated.

Is this your attitude toward problems?

Is this your attitude toward problems?

When you think of it, our problems are small, compared to those of others. Most of us are not going hungry, lack a roof over our heads.

There’s an old adage that says…

If we were to gather up all the problems in the world and then distribute them evenly, how happy we would be to have our few back.

There’s something to remember about problems too. You are not alone. You won’t be the first person, or the last, to have them or face them. This should tell you that there is help out there, for whatever you’re facing.

A Story About Solving Problems

Sometimes, when faced with certain challenges, you need to entertain obscure options; something not so obvious.
A lot of times, those options are hidden in plain sight, right where you are.

That was just the case when I worked in the 9-1-1 centre in the Police Department. We faced many of the same problems everyday.
Lack of equipment. Lack of manpower. Lack of life-saving resources, such as enhanced 9-1-1.

The criminals would listen to the main operating police channels on scanners to determine manpower status. If they knew there were lots of manpower available to catch them, they would have a cohort place a false 9-1-1 call to divert police away from where they wanted to commit an armed robbery, a break-and-enter, or other such crime. It was like a wild goose chasing a red herring.

The criminals also knew that their chances of getting caught for making a false 9-1-1 call were slim. (Unless we locked the line and traced it, which they did not know about.) One person even dialed 9-1-1 to tell me he had figured out all the 10-codes but one, and would I please tell him? Not a chance!

My plan was simple: use a seldom used channel, one dedicated for emergency measures and jurisdictional prisoner transfers, as the channel to dispatch the major crime in progress. I confirmed at a local electronics store that nobody could buy a scanner crystal for that frequency.

I communicated my solution to these problems to each rotating shift of various platoons. Whenever a major crime alert came in, they could expect a small alternating siren yelp/wail/moan preceding the words GREEN ALERT. They were instructed not to acknowledge the call, not to repeat the address, or to have any discussion about the matter on the main operating channels.

Every unit was to switch to that private channel, listen for their number and simply acknowledge the call. No further discussion.

Just before doing so, I would advise other dispatchers of the GREEN ALERT and ask one to lock up the main operational channels with a repeat “All Cars” broadcast of a stolen vehicle or a missing person.

All kinds of apprehensions began taking place, with comments coming back, like “How did you catch me, man? I got a scanner?

Officers would return to the operational channel with, “We’ve got (whatever #) in custody.

Guess I was helping the environment “Go Green” even back then. 🙂

Shortly, thereafter, the “Cop Shop” began getting upgrades… fully encrypted channels, SWAT team, more equipment, and most importantly… enhanced 9-1-1.

12 Creative Ways To Solve Problems

There are no shortage of problems in the world these days. Here are some things to consider:

  1. ANALYZE ASSUMPTIONS. What you believe to be true may actually turn out to be false. Make sure you’re dealing with the facts.
  2. ANOTHER APPROACH. Perhaps you’ve exhausted all attempts. Perhaps you’ve trod the same tired paths that get you nowhere. Treat problems as multi-faceted gems, and start looking at possible solutions from other angles. This allows you to imagine new solutions.
  3. APPROPRIATE ATTITUDE. Is it possible that you’re looking at an issue with a defeatist attitude, a doubt-filled attitude, or a negative attitude? Changing your attitude may contribute to the solution. Have a winning attitude!
  4. FACT FINDING. Obtain as many facts as you can. This way you can make better informed decisions. And, you may just discover the one thing you need to know.
  5. INTENSIFY INQUIRIES. The more you ask, the better chance you have of finding the information you need to provide answers to the problems you face.
  6. OPEN OPTIONS. Remaining open to entertaining new ideas and fresh perspectives goes a long way to solving problems. Broaden your horizons by being open minded.
  7. PRAYER POWER. Sometimes we try to do things in our own strength. Sometimes, problems are beyond are control. Rather than spend time worrying about problems, ask God to help you. Philippians 4:6-7 (Message version) says, “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.
  8. QUALIFYING QUESTIONS. Sometimes solving problems requires asking leading questions. Here are a few to think about: What solutions worked before? What is different now? What will doing things a different way look like?
  9. RESEARCH RISKS. Examine what risks are involved, how they need to be managed properly. Keep risks in mind as you introduce new possible solutions, otherwise you may create a whole new set of problems.
  10. SEEK SOLUTIONS. Be solution-oriented rather than focusing strictly on what the problems are. If this is your mindset, you find better ways, more creative ways to solve issues.
  11. SMALLEST STEPS. Describe the problem as best you can. Break it down into its smallest components. Sometimes this gives you a better overview of the steps needed to implement a solution.
  12. TEST THEORIES. There’s only one way to know for sure if a theory is true and that is to test it.

For the acronym buffs… I define PROBLEMS as…
Predicaments Requiring Our Best Life Experience Manifesting Solutions

Over To You Now… Have your Say…

What ways have you creatively solved problems?
What problems do you face that you can’t seem to find an answer for?

I value your input. Please weigh in on this by commenting here.

Thank you very much! Have a great day!

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About Bill Butler
William A. Butler is a John C.Maxwell certified coach. He loves to add value to others and aspiring to be a great humanitarian, lives by four words: BE LOVE TO OTHERS. William often goes by "Bill" and is a poet, a songwriter and has an upcoming novel.

20 thoughts on “12 Creative Ways To Solve Problems

  1. Hi Bill,

    I remember the story of 9-1-1 and it’s amazing how you’ve beautifully embedded within this post to add value to the central point of this article. Wonderful!

    If I would like to add one thing to this already very valuable post, it will be this:

    See the problem as a problem. But also remember that you are bigger than the problem. Do not make the problem bigger than you. The sense that you are bigger than the problem, brings a tremendous amount of confidence to find an appropriate solution.

    Thank you for sharing and adding value to the community through your wisdom.

    Regards,
    Kumar

    • Hi Kumar,
      Yes, I remember sharing the Green alert story with you on the phone some time ago now. You’re absolutely right.

      Thank you for adding value with this point. Keep things in the proper perspective. I always remind those I coach that “You are not your circumstances, and God is bigger than any of the problems you may have.”

      Thanks so much Kumar. I appreciate you!
      Bill

  2. Hey Bill,

    Really loved this one, it’s helps us to trying to fit the round peg in the square whole by giving us a few more pegs to work with.

    I think the most powerful one listed about would have to be the smallest steps though! I was looking back on my previous year and I didn’t see any really dramatic changes, just small things I was changing for progress – but after a year the overall changes in my life were amazing!

    This principle is really evident in the book The Compound Effect too! One of my favorites!

    Great info as always!

    Zach

    • Hey Zach,
      I think it is true with much of life… it’s the small things that make the difference. It is, as “The Compound Effect” suggests, the cumulative effect of our energy and efforts that produce big results. Upon reflection, it is always easier to see things more clearly. When you’re up close and in the middle of things, the big picture quite often is the last thing anyone sees. Thanks for your thought-provoking comments.

      Best Regards,
      Bill

  3. Sean Van Zant says:

    Hey Bill:

    Much needed post for me. I have been desirous of this post for a good little while, and didn’t even know it 🙂

    I loved the ‘prayer power’, especially the Scripture that went with it!

    Great advice Bill! I can always bank on what you say because you are very objective, able to perceive truth very accurately and you have nothing to hide, nothing to prove, and nothing to lose; let me add one to it: nothing to fear 🙂

    Love ya man,
    Sean

    • Hey Sean,
      I thought you might be able to get some use from this. Thank you for letting me know you find it useful. I plan to write a future post specifically about the power of prayer. When integrity is the central to your being, you need not fear exposure.

      Thank you. I love you too brother.
      Bill

  4. Hi Bill,

    Well, thank you for letting us in your 911/police work stories here. I love insider’s stories 🙂

    Just today I had a conversation with a friend and we were talking about a coworker who had done just that – he fled from a problem recently, instead of enduring it a bit longer to see how it would have ended for him.

    I was telling to my friend that while his decision was the easy way out, it didn’t make him grow from. On the contrary, it made him a bit bitter and sad as a result of not having tried longer. In other words, stayed longer with the problem as Einstein said.

    I think that overcoming problems makes us stronger and better.

    Thank you for sharing this great post with us and love those acronyms 🙂 as always.
    Sylviane Nuccio recently posted…How To Blog In The Midst Of Havoc?My Profile

    • Hi Sylviane,
      You’re so welcome. 🙂 I’ve easily got a thousand of 9-1-1 stories. Perhaps a book of them would be marketable.
      I think you’re spot on with what you’ve shared. It does no good to run away from problems. In a lot of cases, it only increases hardships.
      It’s better to face each as they come along and learn and grow from them. You’re right, they do makes us both stronger and better.

      Aw, thanks! I’m glad to hear you like the acronyms. Enjoy your week! I certainly hope it’s better than what you just shared.

      Cheers!
      Bill

  5. Hello Mr. Bill

    Interesting post due to the problems people are facing.
    You know when I was a young teenager, I ran from anything that hurt and could not face.
    But now, I am like a pit bull, I hold on and try to solve the problems.

    Prayer works well because it is when we find Grace. Grace that empowers us to resolve the problem and not give up.

    Thank you for the great acronyms.

    Gladys…

    • Hello Gladys,
      It’s interesting, when we reflect back, to learn how much we are capable of growing. Part of that growth comes exactly from our ability to handle problems and not run away from them. I’m glad you’ve developed the level of tenacity you need to manage problems well. I think the power of prayer is sometimes reserved by people as a last minute cry for help, rather than an ongoing support.

      You’re most welcome Gladys. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experience.

      Bill

  6. Hi Bill,

    Thanks for sharing your 911 story! I was riveted to it, just imagining the problem you had to face there. Great Job!

    Problems – we all have ’em! It is how we deal with them is what counts.

    As to your call of action: My first instinct is “don’t panic” no matter what the problem is. Deal with it head on. I follow most of your suggestions above. The first thing I do is pray for guidance. That one never fails me.

    Then I look for solutions in a very logical way and not let my emotions get to me, especially fear or doubt because that’s the biggest obstruction. When we act upon fear, we always end up going down the wrong road.

    I’m an information junkie. So I gather up all the information I can and persist until I can solve the problem. Guess it’s the mindset of viewing a problem as just that; a problem that will always have an answer.

    If, however, it is too big for me to handle, I’ll get out there and ask for some help.

    I enjoyed this post as usual and keep those acronyms coming!

    -Donna

    • Hi Donna,
      You’re very welcome. Glad you were fascinated by the 9-1-1 experience. I’ve only got a gazillion more. 🙂 Your first instinct reminds me of a sign I read many years ago that says: When all else fails – PANIC! I suppose whoever invented that sign hadn’t considered all their options. I like how you’ve reflected on this and explained what works for you when you encounter problems. Glad you like the acronyms also. 😉

      Thank you kindly!
      Bill

  7. Hey Bill,

    Great analogy of using your 9-1-1 story. This story and the steps you provided to solve problems remind me of the days when I was taking computer programming classes in College.

    From the steps that you mentioned, I pretty much went through the same steps, troubleshooting the errors and output. One tiny mistake can definitely ruin the program, which is why I had to go step by step, line by line to figure out why I wasn’t getting the results I want, or why the process wasn’t going pass a certain step.

    It was quite tedious, but yet it opened my mind even more. I believe my problem now is Fact Finding. I get one fact and go from there which doesn’t help a lot. With this in mind, I figure the more facts you dig up, the easier for you to come up with solutions.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Hey Sherman,
      Thank you. I took C/C++ programming as part of Systems Analysis at college. I understand the modular top-down structure of how you analyzed and solved problems.
      I think having a rigorous, analytical mind is a great asset. It especially complements creativity. When you are fact finding, it can be sometimes difficult to discern because you may encounter conflicting “expert testimony.” Do you utilize truth tables or validity testing?

      You’re welcome! I appreciate your input here 🙂

      Kind Regards,
      Bill

  8. First Bill I love the definition of Hope! That is so awesome. Having our problems eliminated! I know you’re very good at that.

    I also love 7 and 8. Praying is the way, no and, ifs butts about it. There’s no other power than prayer to do the trick. 8 – Qualifying questions always help me figure out different ways to look at things and help me find solutions. Great tips all, but these two are my favorites because I apply them most to my life.

    Great article and I love your creativity!
    Keep up the good work,
    Barbara.

    • Hello Barbara,
      Glad you like the acronym for HOPE. I love coming up with them 🙂 I suppose it also helps me understand the world a little better.
      Were it not for having placed the points alphabetically, prayer would top the list. I cannot imagine functioning with it.

      Thank you for the kind and encouraging comments. I truly appreciate you! 🙂
      Bill

  9. Damn, no problem for others to solve their problems, they just need to read your post William. 🙂

    Those twelve points make a ton of sense. I tend to use too many assumptions which I’m sure they aren’t true.

    Thanks for the post!

    – Sam

    • Hi Sam,
      I’m you appreciate glad these points. I’ve created an alliteration that may help you: Asking always avoids assumptions. 🙂
      You’re very welcome. I appreciate you taking the time to comment.

      All the best!
      Bill

  10. Problems are very painful topic for many people. It’s sad, because problems almost always brings opportunities in life, and the bigger the problem, the greater the opportunity hides behind it! It took some time for me to understand that clearly (reading helped a lot). One of the things that always helps me is positive attitude to every situation in life. Yes, I’m not always happy with the results, outcomes and circumstances, and I should admit I’m not always with a smile on my face, but having a positive attitude really helps a lot to immediately start looking for a solution and not paying attention to the problem itself.

    • Hi Aistis,
      I suppose that depends on what kind of problems one is referring to, as even they have their own categories, such as minor to chronic. Much of what one person sees as a problem is not for someone else. It all comes down to how their life experience informs them how to perceive the situation.

      I certainly agree with you on that Aistis. You can do much more with a positive attitude than not. Those predisposed as such tend to seek solutions and not wallow in the mire.

      All the best!
      Bill

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