Staying With Problems

We all wrestle with problems of varying shapes and sizes every day of our lives. We all have our ways of approaching these problems.

It is not uncommon to face problems that seem unsolvable at first. That’s just life. These problems stretch our thinking, enable us to question our assumptions and ask meaningful questions. I would argue that the more “stretch” problems you have, the better it is. Stretch”, not panic is the way to go.

Two elements are vital to problem solving – imagination and persistence. Imagination is a direct result of two things – what we’ve been exposed to in the real world and how much we allow ourselves to dream (this might involve resisting or disregarding conventional institutions that exist to prevent any kind of dreaming). So, if you read, travel and experience life while also making sure you give yourself the leeway to dream, you will likely have a fertile imagination.

The mistake we make is to assume that imagination is a function of intelligence and that problem solving begins and ends with intelligence, and thus, imagination. Intelligence helps. But, it’s not everything. Besides, intelligence in art is not always the same as intelligence in math.

The piece that always tends to be ignored is persistence. Einstein once quipped “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”

It’s a thought that inspires me to no end. And it serves as a nice reminder to cut the excuses, the whining and the moaning, and to do just that – stay with problems longer.

We could do much worse than learn a thing or two from the great man..