Have you noticed how problems, when they arise, have an annoying, negative feel which if they involve us, can get quite personal. Something has gone wrong, it wasn’t your fault but you’re the one who’s got to understand it and take responsibility for sorting it out. 

When it’s been solved, the problem, and your part in putting it right, might not be remembered  which isn’t a very satisfying end to the story.

However, one way to turn a dreary problem into something far more positive (better even than it was before it became a problem), is to turn the situation into a Challenge

Challenges are generally perceived to be positive. We meet them on our own terms, face-to-face. We talk about ‘winning’ a Challenge honourably as a fair test of our capabilities. Good can come out of it when we turn out to be the person who beat the Challenge.

Quite a different story ending isn’t it? It sounds attractive.

We approach a Challenge with the positive expectation of overcoming it. We’re motivated to take up the case because there’s a payback…in terms of self esteem, recognition from our peers, opportunities to raise our profile within the organisation and of course, there’s plenty of new learning and experience.  

So, are you up for a Challenge? If so, I recommend that you try applying Critical Thinking to help you unfold the complexities the challenges ahead of you.

Let’s take it step by step-i

1.      Engage your Enquiring Mind : this is a mindset which, when we become conscious of it, opens up a train of thoughts and questions that will generate ideas and actions in your mind. Discovering your Enquiring Mind (paying attention and asking questions) when applied to Challenges produces outcomes which make a difference in an organisation…sometimes small, sometimes not so small differences.

2.      Conscious Attention : notice your thoughts and as they come up one-by-one, think about them. appraise them and apply those that you feel can be useful in meeting the Challenge.

3.      Ask Questions of yourself about your thoughts and trust your intuition to determine which ones have potential and which don’t. Are some more useful than others? Is there a picture emerging of how the Challenge can be handled positively? What action do we need to take?

4.      Listen Actively to yourself…ask probing questions to test out and clarify your thoughts.

5.      Make a Case. As a pattern of thought emerges about how to proceed, consider how you will  present your thoughts and ideas to Stakeholders using persuasion techniques such as logic, emotion or, if necessary, compromise.

6.      Present Your Case using Constructive Argument & Clear Reasoning to engage your Stakeholders in the Challenge. Help them to identify with your ideas and solutions, encourage them to join you in building a response and share in winning the Challenge.