One of the greatest mistakes I’ve made as a father is asking my children, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
And as professionals, we ask ourselves this same question all the time but in different ways: “What’s my dream? What’s my passion? Where am I going? What’s my end goal?”
But as I’ve been looking at where the world is going, I’ve realized the most important question we should ask ourselves (and our children) is: “What problem were you created to solve?”
Related: What Is My Purpose in Life?
This question requires you to step back and look at problem solving from a 30,000-foot perspective. Normally, we think of “problem solving” as addressing issues that need to be “fixed” as they arise.
But I want you to think about problem solving like a complex math problem or a 5,000-piece puzzle. You’re not fixing anything, necessarily; you’re building toward a solution—and not only that, but you were created for this purpose.
So, what problem were you created to solve?
I know that’s a loaded question, so let’s break down how to answer it. Consider these questions:
- What is the knowledge, information, wisdom and insight that aligns with my gifts, my talents and my abilities? What are you naturally good at doing? What do others notice about your strengths? This is strong hint at what problem you’ve been created to solve.
- How does the problem I’m solving with my life provide value for someone else long term? How, in their eyes, do they know that value has been added not just in the moment but over time? Problem solving is not about you or me; it’s about we. You should have a clear understanding of who benefits from the problem you were created to solve.
- How do I turn the problem that has been solved into a teachable moment to share with the world? This is your legacy. This is what makes the problem you’re solving a lifelong endeavor. Whether you share with your team members, your mentees, your children or your community, how will you involve others in solving your problem?
Problem solving becomes a gift that keeps on giving when a person approaches it not from the standpoint of “I’m a great problem solver,” but from the conviction that “I was created to solve this out of my own unique gifting. I was born to be a solution to a problem.”
Once you know what problem you were created to solve, you start seeing individual opportunities to “fix” problems as a pieces to a bigger puzzle. It broadens your perspective and fills you with a powerful type of energy that will fuel the work you do and the difference you make.
Photo by stockfour / Shutterstock
Simon T. Bailey is an international speaker, writer and personal transformation strategist. He is the author of Shift Your Brilliance: Harness the Power of You, Inc., and Be the SPARK: Five Platinum Service Principles for Creating Customers for Life. When he’s not working, he enjoys rooting for the Buffalo Bills (his hometown team).