What Makes Successful Problem Solvers Unique?

Jan 16, 2020

No matter how far back we stretch the timeline of our past, I believe we will never find a single day in history where successful problem solvers haven’t been a part of moving evolution, individuals, and work forward.

With the rise of the internet and it’s globally eye-opening effect, it’s more obvious than ever how the power of problem-solving are putting business owners, executives, and employees utilizing this phenomenon in the spotlight of success.

But what exactly does successful problem solvers do? What are the mindsets and habits that promote natural and unconscious problem solving that allows individuals to incorporate it into their own life and business?

Let’s have a look at 2 of history’s most efficient and successful problem solvers.

Albert Einstein

Mentioning the famous German-born scientist will in today’s day and age bring most minds to his Nobel Prize, his mass-energy formula E = mc2(often dubbed “the world’s most famous equation”), or the general theory of relativity, setting up a revolution in physics. For these achievements, he is often regarded as the father of modern physics and the most influential physicist of the 20th century.

However, this is not the reason I regard him as one of the most fascinating problem-solvers out there. The wisdom of Albert Einstein goes way beyond his scientific achievements.

Einstein was regarded as a modest man, and while most people would say he was born a genius and attributing his success to his high IQ, the man himself attributed his talent to his passionate curiosity and imagination.

He valued both of them higher than knowledge and thought that a real sign of intelligence wasn’t about knowledge at all, but rather the imagination. He believed that the only source of actual knowledge is through experience.

His focus on simplicity was one of the main outlines of his life, and though his skills in physics were well renowned, he firmly believed everything that can be counted didn’t necessarily count. Likewise, everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted. He believed in being a giver and that a life lived for others is a life worth living.

Jim McKelvey Jr.

A successful problem-solver who flies below the radar compared to the likes of Einstein is Jim McKelvey Jr.

McKelvey has reshaped the way small to medium businesses operate by solving a problem of his own through his company Square; a service that lets business owners easily accept credit and debit cards. It’s currently used by more than 2 million businesses around the world.

Jim McKelvey Successful Problem Solver

On his list of achievements, you’ll find multiple successful businesses focused on providing solutions and value to today’s businesses and users. I could spend the afternoon sharing his success and achievements, but let’s hone in on what made him stand out in a world bubbling with new problems arising every day.

A focal point of his success is said to come from the people around him. By setting yourself up with nutritious surroundings, your ideas are much more likely to flourish.

“I’m looking for complementary skill sets in operators, folks who are able to continue the day-to-day cadence of operations, which I’m not particularly good at,” McKelvey says. “I’ve been fortunate to have had some great partners who have that ability — working together and making things a little better every day.”

Furthermore, Mckelvey continues by emphasizing the importance of not being scared of the problem you’re solving.

“I’m frequently afraid of some of the things that I try to do,” McKelvey says. “I get up, and I’m just freaked out by the magnitude of the problems that I’m working on. It’s like — Wow! How are we ever going to deal with this? And, I hope that doesn’t show too often, but it’s there.”

Another key element to his success has been the presence of modesty, patience and humility. Topics many great problem solvers and creatives have put an emphasis on, Albert Einstein included.

“My father is a living example of patience and humility,” McKelvey says. “It was not his advice; my father never turned to me and said, ‘Jimmy, if I were you, I would do x…’ Even when I ask for it, to this day, he does not pontificate.

“But watching him, I would absorb the spirit of somebody who’s always been charitable and kind and modest, but also very accomplished. My father has been a great role model.”

The Verdict on Successful Problem Solvers 

As I’ve concluded above, the main ingredient for successful problem solvers isn’t necessarily the overwhelming presence of knowledge, learning, or consuming information.

What seems to be cultivating a natural mindset for solving whatever problems might arise in your personal and professional life might just be taking a step back.

Listen to your peers and role-models, their lives offer more insights than any formula ever will.

Be humble, don’t try to solve problems for the recognition. Solve them because the value your solution brings you and the people around you.

Don’t back down because of the magnitude of what’s ahead, believe that along with time, imagination and the right environment, any problem can find a solution.

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