It’s been said many times that there are two types of people….

Those that focus on the problem and,

Those that focus on the solution.

From a behavioral standpoint humans are likely to be a bit more complex than that, but you probably see some of the external evidence from people all around you to support this idea. It does seem like the things that people talk about and focus on the most becomes their persona. Not only that, but their focus and persona becomes in a sense a magnet drawing more of the same types of people and situations towards them both professionally and personally.

So have you ever really asked yourself, “Where do I place my focus?” “Do I express things in absolute statements?” “Do I ask the, ‘how can it be done?’ questions?” “Does it seem like I attract more problems than solutions?” “Do people come to me for help and advice at work? Or do I just get beaten up over impossible tasks?”  How often do you revisit where you place your focus? Or do you believe it all to be just idealistic nonsense?

Well, the world was once convinced of this statement too; “The sound barrier cannot be broken. It’s a natural law like the law of gravity.” It took a hand full of scientists willing to ask a new set of questions, focus on solutions and ultimately the one man to ask, “does the thing even really exist?” And for those who do not know, that one man was Chuck Yeager, the date was October 14, 1947, the plane was the Bell X-1 and they changed history with a question. Today, it even seems silly to think that people actually believed in a “sound barrier” and that supersonic flight was impossible.

Here is a list of ‘problem focused’ statements I here frequently:

  1. It cannot be done.
  2. My business is down because of the economy.
  3. I’m not selling because of the economy.
  4. No one is buying because of the economy.
  5. No one sells well in this area.
  6. I do not have enough time to get my work done.
  7. My people are not motivated to perform.
  8. My accounts are not interested in a real partnership
  9. My company has changed on me.
  10. I hate my job, all I hear is that I should feel lucky to be employed and subtle threats about being ‘expendable.’
  11. People are only interested in money, anyone who tells you different is lying(heard this one just last week).


Have you declared any of these ‘absolutes’ recently? It’s ok, we all have moments in life and business where we move our focus. Even if you have spent your whole life focused on the problem it’s ok too. What really matters is how you refocus right now and begin asking solution based questions like:

  • How can it be done? Who has done it before? What other approaches are there?
  • How can I find new sources of business in the current economy? What worked best in the past? What new paradigms can I look at for my business? What new resources do I have? What actions can I take right now?
  • Who is currently buying? What products are they buying? Why? How can I tap into the current customers mindset? Why are people not buying from me??
  • How can I become the ‘one’ who broke the myth about selling well in this area? How can I elevate my skills? Who is the top sales person in my company and what are they doing?
  • How can I make better use of my time? Where am I wasting time? What ‘urgent things’ do I spend a lot of time on that are really unimportant?
  • What really motivates each one of my people? What level of professional relationship do I have with them to find out?
  • Are my accounts not interested in a partnership? Or not interested in a partnership with me? How have I taken a genuine interest in their business, their needs? How am I being perceived?
  • How has my company really changed? Has it evolved? Have I evolved as a professional or am I on a path to extinction?
  • Is this really what I want to be doing? What else is out there? What are my greatest talents, my passions?
  • Is it money that motivates or what people can do with it? Why do people rise to great challenges, perform at high levels of commitment on a volunteer basis?  


Chuck Yeager and his Bell X-1, The “Glamorous Glennis”

Many thanks to people like my father who always taught me to ask the question, “how can it be done” and to people like Chuck Yeager who had the courage to ask when others wouldn’t.

Which person will YOU be in 2010?

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