Problem solving isn’t just simply a task, rather it is a way of thinking. The Art of Problem Solving is more about a state of mind than doing any one thing. So how do problem solvers approach life? Well, they approach everything with the concept of discovery in their head. Discovery is the act of being able to sift through information and finding out the things that are relevant to the task at hand. For example, if you were trying to figure out how to fix a flat tire, what would the process of discovery look for?
The first step you’re going to take in learning a solution is actually automatic. You’re going to fall back on past experiences. If you’ve fixed flat tires before, your mind is going to quickly take you back to the time where you fixed the tire. It will inform you of all the steps involved. If you had studied on the process of how to fix a flat tire, you would recall that information.
What happens, however, when that automatic search that runs through your mind comes up empty? What do you do when you suddenly realize that you don’t have an answer to your question? There are many different responses. Some people will call a knowledgeable friend for assistance while others might consult the internet. Some might just freeze up entirely, unable to figure out the next step in their problem solving path.
The process of beginning to look at solutions is known as the discovery process. There are many different ways to go about discovery, but oftentimes we become very limited in our ability to look for those solutions. What makes it so hard for us to think past these obstacles? Well, oftentimes it’s because these obstacles give the appearance that they are somewhat insolvable. The reality isn’t that the problem is insurmountable. The reality is that we ourselves can put great limitations on our own abilities.
The mindset of a problem solver, however, isn’t one that is concerned with the inability to deal with something. Rather the mindset of the problem solver is much more interested in trying their best to solve the problem at hand. They do this by sifting through all available methods of learning and determining which is the best. In other words, they use the process of discovery until they are able to come to an adequate solution that will ultimately assist them in their goals.
So how do we frame our minds to think in terms of a problem solver? Well, since it’s a state of mind, that means if you begin to develop specific habits and patterns of thought. If you constantly work to keep the frame of mind, eventually you will start becoming a problem solver of your own. Let’s take a look at some of the mindsets that are behind the thought process of the problem solver.