Thursday, June 2, 2016

Three Steps To A Solutions Oriented Mindset

Almost two decades ago I got married. I am originally from Arkansas and my husband is from Iraq. We met at work in Arizona. While courting, he mentioned diabetes runs in his family and his mother had died from diabetes complications. They lived in Iraq under the United Nations sanctions and insulin was considered "dual purpose" - meaning theoretically insulin could be used to make a weapon of some kind. As a result, people in Iraq were unable to get insulin and many, like my husband's mother, died as a result.

I did not know anything about diabetes at the time. No one in my family had it and I never knew anyone with it. But I had heard about the symptoms (maybe through public service announcements growing up): frequent urination, constant thirst, and cravings for sweets.

Soon after we married, I noticed my husband had these symptoms because we still worked in the same office all day. I suggested he go to the doctor and get checked out so we would know.

After a few days, he got the results back and shared them with me at the office - he had diabetes. I told him to meet with the nutritionist and then we would figure out what to do.

In the beginning, we lived with his brother and his family. When I went home from work I found everyone sad and crying. I asked my sister-in-law what happened. She replied, "You don't know?" "Know what?" I asked. "Ali has diabetes," she said. "Yes, he told me," I replied. "He's going die!" she exclaimed with tears running down her face.

Here I am... a new bride, barely a month married into a new culture, and suddenly everyone is saying my husband is going to die. Ya, this is not working for me.

I racked my brain for information. Had I ever heard diabetes was a death sentence?

After a few days, my husband met with the nutritionist who basically told him he had to eat uninteresting food for the rest of his life. I watched every night for about a week, the entire table set with plates of pasta, a variety of meats, loaves of bread, and rice... while my husband sat with a plate of salad and skinless baked chicken.  Every day.

Finally, I turned to him and said, "This is no way to live. It's better to die. There has to be another way."

I went into research mode. I wanted to find a way to regulate his diabetes without the rest of his life being about denial - living a life based on what he could not have.

I researched and we experimented for years. He has never felt denied any food, not even sweets. He eats what he wants, in moderation, and makes sure he also eats what we have identified as the best foods for him.

Through diet, exercise, and supplements, and being willing to tweak it along the way, in two decades he has never been put on insulin and we have reduced his medicine consistently over the years - with our ultimate goal to get him off diabetes medicine almost completely, if not completely.

I'm not a doctor.

I'm an attorney and keynote speaker.

I don't have the cure for diabetes. 

What I do have is a solutions-oriented mindset.

My motto is "There has to be another way, if only because there has to be."

It may not be your first choice, it may require work, you may have to look hard for it, but there is always another way.

I have also identified a three-step system for creating a solutions-oriented mindset.

Step One

Identify what you want. This is often the most difficult step. We often get so stuck on the problem, we are unable to even identify what we want. Sometimes we cannot even truly identify the problem - we are so stuck in how we feel about the situation.

What do you want? A job that makes you happy? To start your own business? A happy marriage? To raise "good" kids?

Step Two

What does "what you want" look like?

A job that makes one person happy will not make another person happy. What makes you happy in a job? Accomplishment? Money? Stress? No stress? Working alone? Working in groups? Responsibility? Title?

What kind of business do you want to start? Do you know anything about that business? What do you want from your own business? More time? More money? More freedom? Opportunity to create your passion product?

A happy marriage requires work. It requires communication in general and communication of expectations. Do you know your expectations of yourself and your spouse? Have you ever communicated them? Or do you just assume your spouse should know what you expect and what will make you happy? There are no mind-readers in a relationship, at least not at first, and even after years of intimacy, communicating rather than assuming will yield better results. If you do not know what makes you happy, how can someone else?

Marriage is a partnership that must be based on what the two partners want, not necessarily what they have observed from their parents and society.

Even having "good" kids should be defined. What is a "good" kid to you? Good character? Good manners? Good grades? Degrees? Social skills? Intelligent? Motivated? Successful? 

Even these ideas need to be defined further. What are "good" grades? A's? B's? What demonstrates "good" character to you?

Step three

What is required? What do you need to do to get from "what you want" to "what does it look like."

A new skill? A degree? A plan of specific actions?

If you do not know what "what you want" looks like, it is difficult to either recognize it or figure out how to attain it.

I guarantee it requires change. If it didn't, you would already have it.

Most of the time it requires research. Finding books, blogs, experts, or friends with knowledge about the subject. Weeding through different perspectives, a willingness to experiment, and deciding what works for you. 

There is no "one" answer to all problems for all people - but there is at least one answer for each person if they are willing to search.

It also requires communication, with yourself and others.

Once my husband came home upset. His nephew had blown the engine in his car. He never checked the oil and eventually ran out. The whole car was now worthless - and it was a nice car.

I asked my husband, "Did anyone ever show him how to check the oil?"  My husband replied, "No." I said, "Then why are you mad at him?"

What do you want? To raise a child that is a responsible car owner.

What does it look like? The child performs maintenance on the car, such as checking oil levels.

What is required? Teaching the child about the importance of oil in a car and how to check it, then what do if it is low.

It works every time, whether for big or small issues, but you have to be willing to do the work - both internal and external - to find what you really want and what it really looks like.

Continuously going through the steps will lead to a solutions-oriented mindset where no obstacle can hold you back for long - where you will always be able to identify what you need to do to move forward.

Anytime I do not like the current method or outcome, I believe to the depths of my soul "there has to be another way, if only because there has to be" and then I set about finding it.  

Deedra Abboud is the founder of the Global Institute of Solution Oriented Leadership, a "rising tide raising all boats" resource on the art and science of finding solutions, not fault - at work, at home, and in the community. She is an author, keynote speaker, lawyer, and frequent media resource. When she's not helping clients or speaking at organization events, she's traveling the world.  At last count, she's been to more than 15 countries including Bahrain, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom.

No comments:

Post a Comment