Some problems are just a bear to work out. I don’t know about you, but it seems like I can get stuck on them forever. So I avoid, procrastinate, and complain.

Which, of course, is no help at all.

So I’ve developed some approaches which seem to help, at least most of the time.

First, I try to get clear on exactly what the problem is. That sounds simple, but it’s often not. I might be getting stuck because “that idiot is doing the wrong thing.” But what’s the real problem here? Perhaps it’s that I don’t control others’ behavior, and that frustrates me. Or that it’s making my own life inconvenient. Or I think that someone else is actually doing damage to our team’s results.

In each case, my priorities and path to resolution might be different. Perhaps my best course of action is to just move on and do nothing!

Second, I find that it’s often very useful to get someone else’s perspective. Maybe I should talk it over with a friend, mentor or coach. I often find that this helps me to make sense of a situation, and it often gets simplified.

And third, I work to get clear on my needs and priorities. That’s one reason by having a clear mission can really help: you get to think through what’s important before you get into fire-fighting mode. You have time to think through your priorities a bit more rationally, looking at the big picture.

All of these put together rarely solve a significant problem in its entirety. But they often make it simpler, which helps.