Errybody got problems. Here’s how to solve yours

To quote from the greatest movie ever, Talldega Nights:

“Problems? I don’t wanna hear about your damn problems. Everybody got problems. My mama got problems. She just lost her leg. My cousin Pookie just lost a testicle. My dog just threw up somebody’s finger. That’s a problem.”


We’ve all got problems, but have you ever thought of looking at them in a different way?

Problem Solving 101 was originally written for Japanese school children by Ken Watanabe who wanted to shift the focus from memorization to critical thinking, but the book has become a popular guide on how to achieve your goals.

It’s a quick read, but one that will make you think differently about solving problems. The book comes up with a 4 step process that can be applied to any problems or goals you would like to achieve. And the drawings and diagrams make this very easy to understand.

The Magic Key: a process to solve (almost) all of your problems

1.Identify what your problem is really about 

In order to identify a problem and what it actually is about, you need to break your problem down into smaller parts. Ask yourself which areas of your problem are causing the most trouble. Once you know which specific point is causing the problem, you can focus on fixing your problem more effectively, rather than focusing all your energy on what you thought was the problem.

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2. Why is this a problem and what’s causing it?

Write down all the possible causes for your problem. Don’t think too hard about this nor worry if they are silly or overly dramatic. Just write them down.

Once you have a list, you’ll have a set of hypotheses. But these are the hypothesis that you’ll need to test out. The author says the best way to do so is to use a yes/no tree.

Keep asking yes/no questions until you have enough answers to support your hypothesis.

problem solving 101

3. Now you know the problem, you can work on coming up with the best solutions

What info do you need to analyse the problem? For example: do you need to ask someone or do research online? Start coming up with ideas for these problems and organise potential solutions according to the most impact they will have.

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4. Start on your action plan (execute it)

You can always do a lot of things when faced with a problem, but this method will help you to find the best possible solution for the biggest impact.

How to use this process to reach your dreams

We all have dreams but to turn them into a reality, you need to break them down into smaller goals that you can achieve one at a time (this stops it from becoming overwhelming). To start doing this, think of the gap between where you are now and where you would like to be.

What’s your problem? Write down all the possible ways you could achieve your goal. What’s stopping you from doing this? Don’t worry about writing down too many, just get all of your ideas on paper.

What’s the root cause of your problem? Once you have a few, start asking yes/no questions to see if your suggestions will work. Remove any solutions that you don’t like, are too hard or won’t really have an impact.

Create a hypothesis to solve it. Once you have ones you like, work on your hypothesis and analyze the causes.

Execution. Now you know what you have to do, do it.

What’s interesting is that this method makes you think about the problem before you start coming up with solutions, and in doing so makes sure you don’t rush into suddenly trying to fix everything. It’s an easy to read book that will have a big impact on how you go about solving everyday challenges as well as reaching your goals.

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