Turn Problems into Solutions – Four Approaches to Solving Problems

Problems can be turned into solutions

“Experience is, for me, the highest authority. The touchstone of validity is my own experience. No other person’s ideas and none of my ideas are as authoritative as my experience. It is to experience that I must return again and again, to discover a closer approximation to truth as it is in the process of becoming me.” – Carl R. Rogers, On Becoming a Person, 1954


1 – Talk about “Problems” to Find a Solution

When I was a teenager, we had set meal times and would sit at a table together at least twice a day. Our Sunday family brunch often led to a conversation about a “problem.” My dad was studying to be a Carl Rogers client-centered therapist at the time, and I am not sure if he sometimes tried to use a questioning method or if he was just very skilled in giving my sister and me the space and safety in which we could just “let it out.” We never covered anything under the carpet, which is probably why I finally became a coach. 

Having this kind of open environment where you can talk through anything is a family tradition that we still live with when we are together. Even though my dad and sister left this earth long ago, my mum, aunt, and I often sit down and talk through anything; we love to analyze why a person shows a particular behavior and how we can solve relationship issues. This is so normal for me that I sometimes need to remind myself that it is not “normal” but rather extraordinary, especially in German. I would assume other families have a more robust discussion around political topics, money issues (how to save it), or even more mundane topics like sports.

On the other hand, I have realized in conversations with friends that sharing problems and openly talking about feelings, insecurities, or areas of your life where you might not feel like “Wonder Woman” could be misinterpreted or come across as if you don’t know where you are going. 

This is funny because I feel completely safe and on the right path in my life. I have a strong sense of alignment between my strengths and my life’s work. Insecurities of artistic types are normal because we expose ourselves to critiques much more often than the average business professional. Still, most companies also train people to use words other than “problem,” or we are not allowed to use words such as “drama.” 

It took me years to weed out the “corporate speak” in my writing, and even a word like “alignment” creeps me out a bit as it feels “corporate”. Solving problems is one of my roots and hence I wanted to share four beliefs behind problems with you.

Playing it out on the field

2 – Apply Time Pressure

When I think of problems, I think of my favorite math teacher (who also died rather young) and his gigantic triangle. He had the outer appearance of a garden dwarf but was a great math and physics teacher. He even made me like physics at some stage. In math, we had to solve problems constantly; sometimes, this would cause stress. I can’t remember this from school or university, but I wouldn’t say I like those psychometric tests, which are sometimes still used in banks and consulting firms to weed out candidates. The classical IQ tests focussing on calculations in your head can be stressful if you grew up using a calculator.

“Being bad with numbers” is a common stereotype of women and is often used against women. I’m concerned that women might usually not be “bad with numbers” but with the pressure of solving a mathematical problem without using Excel or a calculator and under time constraints. Considering this, every math problem will usually be solved with practice and a good teacher. And this is precisely what I mean by a “problem.” It’s a complex riddle that will need time, practice, and different angles to be solved. Do you like crossword puzzles? Could you imagine an upcoming “issue” or pickle to be approached like a crossword puzzle? Write down all the pieces, paint a picture, and see if a solution exists.

Needing direction
Needing direction


3 – Reduce the Complexity by breaking them down

Sometimes, solving problems alone is not possible. Problems might seem too complex to solve. You might have a machine in front of you and always follow the same steps and end up with the same error messages. For this problem, you need to Google or ask someone who understands the machine better than you do. It would be best if you tried several times and potentially several different approaches. You can write down what you did to solve the problem, ask a bot for help, or ask around in your network. Maybe someone else has encountered the same problem and has a solution or a workaround. I advise breaking the problem into smaller tasks or painting an image to understand the components and how they are interconnected. Are you confronted with a problem you cannot solve? Which steps have you taken and tried already? Would it be time to ask for help? If you aren’t getting help, should you escalate the issue to the next level now? What is at stake? Can you allow yourself a bit of discomfort?

The Global Rockstar Album

4 – Challenge Your Self-Image

Having problems is often associated with shortcomings and harms our self-image of being a perfect “Wonder Woman.” However, this self-image also creates a lot of harm, especially when life isn’t perfect. For example, when I was in my thirties and forties, not being able to get pregnant nor holding my marriage together in two locations with two careers was a real problem. Until then, I lived in this illusion that we could PLAN our lives and that we had to take action. I might have exaggerated this a bit too much since I lost half of my family rather early in life. I probably thought, “Okay, I will just plan this better from now on.” (I love plans, spreadsheets, and to-do lists.)

Life isn’t like that, and during my coach training, I learned to accept that. I also learned that you cannot change others; you can only change yourself. Do you know who a “Wonder Woman” is? It’s a woman who loves herself anyway, despite the failure of her body to produce offspring, her failed marriage, and the stain on her top. Ask yourself if you could accept a little more each day and what it would take to “be yourself”? What does it mean for you? Maybe start with a small change, like wearing a different outfit or letting your hair down.

Often, a problem is a conflict of two or three interests that pulls them in different directions. It can also stem from opposing beliefs and constructs of reality. If we cannot solve a problem alone, we might feel dependent, and many of us don’t like to ask for help. It’s a common stereotype that men don’t want to ask for directions. However, I don’t like to ask for directions either. Sometimes, I have difficulty differentiating left and right, and asking how something is done best could show a weakness. Are you afraid to ask for help? 

Problems are here to guide us.

Obstacles are learning opportunities,

Pain is beneficial.

Approach your day with a small problem you wish to solve, and add a weekly practice to your RockMeApp around solving problems. If you feel overwhelmed with a more significant problem and don’t know how to ask for help or who to turn to, maybe it’s time to talk to me.

Contact Card 3


Carl R Rogers




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