Inside the Mind of a Compulsive Problem SolverI have a confession to make. I am a compulsive problem solver. Tell me your woes and within 5 minutes you’ll get a barrage of questions followed by an array of solutions.


I’m sure it can be, especially if you’re just looking for a friendly ear.

Yet many friends and colleagues come to me with their problems because I offer solutions. Good solutions. Useful ones they can implement.

While this seems to be an innate compulsion talent, I believe it can be learned as well (being a problem solver and all…).

Enter The Mind of Compulsive Problem Solver If You Dare

This post is part of the September Word Carnival. The topic is The Art and Science of Solving Small Biz Problems. Click the link to get a variety of perspectives from an amazing group of small business experts.

Special Audio Frequency for Problem Solvers

Alternate Title: What my brain hears when you share a problem

I would compare this to a dog whistle. When you blow one, there seems to be silence, but it sure gets your dog’s attention.
Here’s an example of how this special hearing ability works.
Colleague Says, “My desk is always filled with stuff. I’ve tried all those productivity and organizational books, but nothing works. It’s so frustrating.”

What a compulsive problem solver hears, “I need to organize my desk, but none of the traditional solutions are working. Help!”
How about this one?
Colleague Says, “I know people say social media is useful, but it seems overwhelming and relatively ineffective. I’m just going to focus on what has worked for me in the past.”

What a compulsive problem solver hears, “I think this social media thing may be good for my business, but I’m uncertain. Can you reassure me and help me get started?”
Probably the most common one for me, yet seems to surprise people the most.
Colleague Says, “It’s just not possible.”

What a compulsive problem solver hears, “Man this is really tough. It’s a real brain teaser. It’s going to be hard but you can help. Dig in now!”
How to hear this frequency. It’s actually really easy, no special equipment required. You can start in your next conversation. While other(s) are talking, ask yourself, “Are they sharing a problem? Are they expressing frustration with an issue?”. If the answer is yes, move on to the next step.

It will take some time to make this a habit. You might put a sticky note on your cell phone. Consider challenging yourself to spot as many problems as possible in your next networking event. Keep it up, only repetition will turn it into a habit.

Diagnosing the Complaint

Alternate Title: Determining the Root Cause of the Problem

To become a compulsive problem solver you must use the symptoms to correctly diagnose the problem. Just like with your physical body, treating a symptom may not solve the problem. If my back aches I can take some over the counter pain medicine for temporary relief. However the pain will come back if I don’t address the root cause. Is it my chair? My posture? Some extra weight? A slipped disc?

Once you’ve identified a complaint, you need to dig deeper, and get to the central problem. Let’s take a look at the examples above.

Messy Desk Complaint

  • Is this person having trouble finding things?
  • Does this person find the messiness a distraction to getting work done?
  • Is this person more concerned with what others will think of their desk? That actually the mess is not an issue for them.

Social Media Avoidance

  • Does this person genuinely need social media? Is that a good wayto reach their target market?
  • Is this person simply intimidated by the technology? Worried that it’s just too complicated and they’ll “mess it up”?
  • Is there a deeper issue with sales and bringing in new business?

Warning: Don’t pull out the spotlights and thumb screws. This isn’t an interrogation, it’s a gentle examination of a problem.
Max The Super Hero

Solutions Super Hero

Alternate Title: Activate Your Super Powers

You don’t need to get bitten by a radioactive spider, or have been born on the planet Krypton to be a Solutions Super Hero. You already have super powers, you just need to use them.

Just like super heroes, we each have our own unique strengths and weaknesses. The trick is to leverage them to their fullest. Here’s a quick primer on the three main ways you can help someone find their solution.

The Connector
Connectors know people. In fact they seem to know everybody. More importantly they know about people’s talents, their products and services and their personalities.

Sound like you? Then next time you’ve diagnosed a problem, consider who you know that would be a great resource to solve the problem. Then make an introduction.

The Curator
Curators collect information. Think of them as the librarians of life. They excel at finding obscure resources, and cataloguing it (even just in their heads) for future reference.

Can you name five different websites to find synonyms? Or the best bird song identification tools? Then you’re a curator. Once you’ve diagnosed a problem just cast your mind over resources you’ve “just happened” to stumble across. Easy for you to share, invaluable to the other person’s success.

The Implementer
Implementers attack problems. Once identified they are ready to spring into action, testing this idea or that tool.

Do you itch to dig into a challenge once its been articulated? I know I do. And that makes us implementers. Sometimes we serve as the General, outlining a specific strategy and then delegating execution. Other times our skills and abilities are a match for implementing the solution. Just remember to ask permission before gleefully diving into execution mode!


Special Offer

Alternate Title: Gratuitous Self-Promotion

Do you need the services of a compulsive problem solver? Not sure what exactly the root cause of your problem is? Convinced that there isn’t a solution to your challenge?

I’d love to help you. In fact, I’m itching to help. To make it easy I’m offering you a full hour with me at a special rate. Simply click here, use the code ProblemSolved, and get a fantastic deal.

What have you got to lose? Other than your problem.
Nicole Fende is The Numbers Whisperer®. Her mission is to make finance fun and profit easy. Check out her recently released book, How to be a Finance Rock Star: The Small Business Owner’s Ticket to Multi-Platinum Profits.