These days, all we can think about is the coronavirus – it’s current and after effects. These are unprecedented times. We should be prepared for the unexpected, create more routines and habits to fall back on. Routines can be the one stabilizing, binding factor that grounds us and gives us a sense of familiarity in these unfamiliar times.
It is also a good time to change our mindset to one that views problems as an opportunity instead of a stumbling block. As much as this is an unfamiliar time for us, the world has millions of years of history and has gone through countless calamities and catastrophes.
And after every single of those calamities, people have dusted off the ashes and rose above those tough times. Problems were rampant and each problem was used as an opportunity to move forward.
One such person was Italo Marchiony.
It was the early 1800s – a revolution and a wave of change was rocking the world. People were immigrating all over Europe, looking for a better life.
One group of them were the ‘penny ice men’.
During summer, as early as 7 AM, the cries of “Ecco un poco, che un poco” (Here’s a little for so little), brought the cities of Europe to life . This cry became distorted among non- italians as “hokey pokey”. The ‘penny ice men’ became ‘hokey pokey men’.
These penny ice, sold in glass goblets became so famous, that they sailed across the ocean and immigrated to New York and other American cities as well.
Italo Marchiony was one such ‘hokey pokey’ man. He would scoop lemon ice into tiny glass goblets for customers all along wall street. After the customers enjoyed the ice, the glass goblets had to be washed and used again.
That was what done traditionally and that is what everyone continued to do.
But this common practice came with frustrations. The washing was tedious and the breakage caused a lot of waste and the customers tended to wander off with the ice.
Italo Marichano wasn’t satisfied with the way things were ‘usually’ done. He looked for ways to get around the problems that accompanied the goblet usage.
So, he started serving ice in paper cones. But the paper cones were messy and it caused an additional littering problem.
Undaunted, he had the idea of producing a completely edible alternative, which would take care of all his frustrations. It was the perfect solution – but where do you find an edible platter?
He started experimenting with waffles. Several failed attempts, sleepless nights and frustrated reworks later – he found that , if he folded the waffles into cones when they were still warm, they will hold their shape even after they cooled down.
This invention was a huge hit!
It was so much in demand that he built a machine that created cones – sugar cones, like the ones we know today.
While ice cream cones might not be the most important or life-changing invention, it is a perfect example of thinking outside the box. How problems can trigger creativity and creativity invention.
And the first step – change your mindset.
Problems have always been a part of life and will continue to be so.
But they can be stumbling blocks or steps to rise higher – depending on our mindset.
How do we develop a growth mindset?
Problems are inescapable – Accept it
Accepting problems as an everyday occurrence helps us view problems in a different light. It will no longer be a frustrating hindrance, but something that needs to be fixed. An inconvenience rather than a stumbling block.
Negativity in response to a problem is instinct – be aware of it
The instinctual response to any problem, big or small is frustration and negativity. The only way to overcome these negative feelings is to be aware of them. Just as we have accepted problems to be part of our live – so should we accept the negativity associated with it. There is no working around it without being aware of it.
Now that we are aware of the negative emotions – accept them and try to put them behind you. Now it is time to inspect the problem objectively.
Emotions and Problems don’t gel
The moment we view our problems emotionally , the outcome will be emotional too. And emotional outcomes do not offer logical solution. Keep your problems away from your emotions and day to day consequences.
For example if Marichano had been incessantly worried about the loss to his business because of the breakage and loss of his goblets, he wouldn’t have been able to view the problem for what it is and come up with a solution.
Evaluate the problem objectively.
Once you remove emotions out of the problem and evaluate them for what it really is, it helps to remove exaggerated or imaginary consequences of your problems.
How can we trigger our problem- solving muscle?
Ignore the first solution that comes to mind. Because they are instinctive. And instinct is to get out of danger – not for improving.
Then go ahead and ignore the next 10 ideas. The more constraints you have, the better your ideas will turn out to be.
Problems are inevitable- be it personal, professional or everyday hindrances. If you can train your mind to view these problems as opportunities for growth, handling them quickly and efficiently will become second nature.