September, 2016

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Mastering problem solving to realize your greatness

Problem Solving

In his book ‘The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness’, Stephen Covey talked about the existence of a gap “between possessing great potential and actually realizing a life of greatness and contribution.” He wrote, “We know there is a painful gap…between being aware of tremendous problems and challenges in the workplace and developing the internal power and moral authority to break out of those problems and become a significant force in solving them.”

To realize our greatness, we need to fill the gap by developing the ability to solve problems.

The first step toward developing the ability to solve problems is to develop the right mindset. There is a simple fact many of us overlook. We shouldn’t be surprised for being confronted with problems every time we attempt to advance. As we march forward to live up to our potential, problems come on our way ‘to test’ whether we are up to the task.

It’s in human nature to set goals. When we march forward to achieve our goals that is when problems start to arise. But, this shouldn’t stop us from having huge goals just because they attract huge problems. The alternative is not pretty. If we just fold our hands and sit at the sidelines as life goes on; well, we don’t need to worry about problems. They are not interested with people in that side of the fence 🙂


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The next thing we need to master problem solving is to embrace problems as normal. I like the perspective of Theodore Rubin. He declared, “The problem is not that there are problems. The problem is expecting otherwise and thinking that having problems is a problem.” Viktor Frankl, who faced a huge problem I cannot even fathom to understand let alone to overcome said, “What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for some goal worthy of him. What he needs is not the discharge of tension at any cost, but the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him.”

A tensioned life filled with problems is a blessing in disguise. Such a life helps us to grow and become better. I’ve witnessed in my own journey that my significant growth came each time I outgrown a problem. I strongly believe that each problem that we face collectively is also meant to take us to the next level of growth as a team.

For that matter, problems are not just normal, they are opportunities. Henri Kaiser noted, “Problems are only opportunities in work clothes.” Make today a choice, if you haven’t, to change your attitude toward problems, embrace problems as normal, and master problem solving to realize your greatness by translating problems into opportunities…

Like other abilities, mastering our ability to turn problems into opportunities is something we can develop and improve. To take our personal life and our team to the next level, we need to take our problem solving ability to the next level. Mastering problem solving takes our attention, investment, and most importantly practicing problem solving using latest tools, processes, and approaches. If you may have any question or interested to work with me in this regard, let me know.


Assegid (AZ) Habtewold is a workshop facilitator at Success Pathways, LLC. He provides workplace leadership soft skill workshops on themes such as Problem Solving and Decision Making, Leading Change, and other leadership related topics. To learn more about the other available Workplace Workshops, check this link:




Making tough decisions a little easier…

As I prepare for a two day workshop on the themes Ethical Decision Making, and Leading Change, I thought sharing with you a quick insight you may find helpful as you make tough decisions. Depending on the stage we are in life, our job description, and personal responsibilities, many of us may not make tough decisions all the time while there are some individuals who make tough choices that involve people’s lives and millions of dollars on a consistent basis. There are still very few leaders whose decisions may change the destiny of their community, country, and even shape the course of history. The point is that whether our decisions are consequential or not, we all make tough decisions though the frequency may vary.

Where we are in life right now as individuals has been shaped by so many tough decisions we have made so far. Where we are heading is highly dependent on each and every decision that we are going to make, especially the tough ones. Families, organizations, and countries aren’t different. They are products of the collective decisions they have been making. Some families are happily and fulfilling while others are torn apart and miserable. Some companies are flourishing and thriving for generations while many went bankrupt and disappeared from the face of the earth.  Some countries are successful and prosperous while many are desperate and experiencing all kinds of sufferings such as civil war, poverty, backwardness, and so on.

How do you make tough decisions? What are some of the processes, methods, criteria, and approaches you use as you make life-altering decisions? One of the approaches that I found very helpful is the clarity you have about your values. I’m not implying that just having some great values results in experiencing miracles as you make tough choices. We all have values whether we are conscious about them or not. The question then is: Are you clear about your values? Do you know the very reasons why you embraced certain values over others? How far can you go to promote and defend your values? Among your values, which ones are dominant? You may have 10 or even more values but are you clear about, let’s say, the three dominant values in order of importance?

The brother of Walt Disney, Roy said: “When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier” The clarity is more important especially when two or more of your values are in conflict as you prepare to make touch decisions.We all know that making a choice between Wrong and Right is easy if you are an ethical person. What is challenging is when you are confronted with RIGHT vs. RIGHT kind of choices. In such circumstances, having clarity concerning your values helps you make a choice that you don’t regret. You make a decision that aligns with who you truly are and what you stand for.

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Practice time! Let’s say that you are presented with a tough choice right now. Your decision requires choosing between your two values: Integrity vs. Loyalty. With which one do you side? For instance, you may be facing a decision at home or work. If you tell the truth, you may lose the trust of your spouse/child (or a dear colleague). Do you tell the truth and maintain your integrity or forget about the truth and remain loyal to your spouse/child (or a dear friend)? I know that most of the tough decisions we face are more challenging than this but you got the point…

In conclusion, if you are clear about your values in order of their importance, you don’t take forever to make tough decisions that align with who you are and what you stand for. It may be okay for many of us to take ample time, and even make some mistakes in our private space as we make decisions. That is not the case when it comes to the work and marketplace. Organizations, communities, and nations are in desperate need of leaders who could make tough decisions instantly.Many leaders in politics, business, and military are expected to make tough decisions without ample data and enough time to ponder. Those leaders who are clear about the values of their organizations and the expectations of key stakeholders make tough choices easily than those who are not. And that is why they are highly paid, respected by their shareholders, elected again and again by their constituencies, and sought after by head hunters.

Assegid (AZ) Habtewold is a workshop facilitator at Success Pathways, LLC. He provides workplace leadership soft skill workshops on themes such as Problem Solving and Decision Making, Leading Change, and other leadership related topics. To learn more about the other available Workplace Workshops, check this link: