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We entrepreneurs are a pragmatic bunch. Meaning, we love to solve problems. Entrepreneurs almost always have a deep, unconscious need to find elegant, easy and fast solutions. Not just for their own issues, but for other people’s too.
As an entrepreneur, you feel the itch. When something isn’t right, you’re the first one to notice and feel the insatiable need to scratch it. ‘Scratching itches’ got you where you are today and that is pretty damn cool. You suffer from the obsessive compulsive problem solving disorder of all successful business owners.
As far as personality disorders go, this one simply rocks! Solving problems turns out to be a great way to make a buck or build an empire.
Obsessed with Scratching Itches? It’s a Blessing and a Curse
The entrepreneur’s need for pragmatic problem solving is a mixed blessing. It’s fantastic when we use this gift to do something revolutionary and valuable, but what about when we don’t?
You can’t just turn off your problem-solving disorder. It’s practically hardwired in. It means that your brains is ‘always on’, ticking away and trying to fix things.
Do you find yourself constantly asking internal, mental questions of yourself, like:
- What can I do about X?
- How can I fix this?
- What will I have to do to achieve Y?
- What if Z goes wrong, then what will I do?
If so, hell, you’re probably just an entrepreneur. How perceptive of me!
You have a great habit of problem-busting thinking. You regularly come up with solutions way outside the ‘box’ – except when you don’t.
When Problem Solving Goes Horribly Wrong
What happens when the solution isn’t forthcoming? How do you know when to stop trying to solve the problem? What happens if you simply cannot solve the problem?
If you’re like most successful entrepreneurs, not solving the problem isn’t an option. The questions keep ticking around in your head regardless, even if you know you should give up. You tell yourself you will find a way.
There’s a word for that. It’s called ‘worrying’.
Worrying is problem solving when the problem can’t be solved.
It could be for many reasons. It could be that the problem can’t be solved yet – you need to wait for the situation to develop. Maybe you aren’t the right person to solve it at all! Or, perhaps you need help from someone and you’re waiting on them.
Whatever it is, the problem can’t be solved this minute. Yet your good ol’ unconscious mind goes ahead and keeps worrying. Bless it.
Now you’re not smiling. Now OCPS disorder isn’t looking so damn cool. You’re lying awake at 3am wishing you could simply switch off.
No wonder issues like insomnia are such a plague for entrepreneurs. About seventy percent of my entrepreneurial clients complained of the can’t-switch-off symptom. They lay awake at night trying to ‘solve’ such doozies as:
- Finding enough customers to pay next month’s overheads
- Figuring out what they’ll do if it doesn’t work out
- Worrying if they charge too much/too little for their product
Destroying this ineffective mental habit doesn’t have to be difficult. I trialled several different solutions with clients and discovered that truly ‘getting’ one simple concept made all the different. The idea is a principle I borrowed from a pal of mine from Asia. You know, that guy with the grin and the big belly?
Buddha had some good things to say about worrying and despite that I’m not actually Buddhist, I thought I’d borrow this from him:
If you can do something about it, then don’t worry.
If you can’t do something about it, then don’t worry.
Entrepreneurs are problem solvers. We really don’t need to worry about things that we can do something about, right?
Thing is, if we are powerless to change something, what’s the point in worrying about it? A better choice would be to pour a drink and settle down to wait and see.
So since I discovered this proverb/philosophy, I’ve been putting it into action. I started asking around some of my mentors and role models. I discovered that the happiest of them held the same principle near and dear to their hearts. Except the part about pouring drinks – that’s optional.
They may not have been Buddhist, or even put words around the idea before, but deep down… they knew that worrying is never worth it.
I’d guess that, deep down, you believe the same. While you may find it tough to put into practice 100% of the time, this really is the key to finding the happiness and innovation that pushes the envelope of life and business.
Is this something new or something you knew? What do you think?
About the Author: Peter Shallard is the Shrink for Entrepreneurs. He helps business owners figure out how to achieve wealth, freedom AND sanity… all at the same time! Check out his blog or for mini Jedi Mind Tricks, follow @PeterShallard on Twitter.