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Success Advice

How to Use Psychological Distance to Become a Better Problem Solver



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Life is about finding a way of living that makes you the happiest. However, that’s not always easy, and we all have to deal with obstacles and problems we don’t expect. Whether your problems stem from work, personal or emotional matters, a simple mindset shift can change how you go about them. That’s the art of problem solving, and with the help of a little-known phenomenon called psychological distance, that’s what we’re going to dive into today.

What Is Problem Solving?

Problem solving refers to the ability to tackle new, difficult situations with relative ease. It isn’t a personality trait or a certain characteristic that only some possess; rather, it’s a way of thinking developed through consistency.

Solving problems, at its core, comes from these three actions:

  1. Identifying the problem
  2. Looking at the problem from a distance (I’ll show you how)
  3. Writing down the steps or a plan of action to solving the problem

However, problem solving isn’t necessarily the same as thinking logically. Instead, it requires taking a step back from the problem itself and attempting to think outside the box, something that cannot always be done pragmatically. It’s true that logical problem solving can be used at work, but when it comes to personal development and more emotionally-charged topics, you need to push your boundaries to come up with the right solutions.

That’s why the skill of problem solving is so valuable to your personal development. It’s a tool for personal growth, and it acts as a meta skill that helps you deal with everything life throws your way.

How Can Problem Solving Benefit You?

Whether you’re looking for a way to establish your business or brand, or just growing personally, being a strong problem solver can help you in many ways, including:

  • Successfully guiding your life or your business down the path you want, independently of the roadblocks that confront you
  • Identifying problems you couldn’t see before due to a different life perspective
  • Spending more time on developing solutions rather than worrying about them
  • Adding an extra layer of creativity to your way of thinking

I could go on with the benefits of being an adept problem solver, and what that can do for the people and organizations around you. The most important entity that needs your problem solving skills, though, is yourself. Here’s my seven-step process for shifting your mentality into that of a problem solver right now.

How To Turn Yourself Into A Problem Solver: Step-by-Step

  1. Sit in a calm, relaxed place.
  2. Think about the first problem you want to solve in your life.
  3. Once you can clearly identify the problem, imagine that the problem is happening to a friend of yours, not to you.
  4. Take detailed notes on the advice you would give your friend in solving the problem.
  5. Then take the same problem and imagine it’s happening to you, but rather than it happening now, envision it happening to you one year from today.
  6. Take detailed notes on how you would prepare to solve the problem step-by-step in advance. 
  7. Make a step-by-step plan for taking action on your best solution. Take the first step today.

Why does this all work? Because of a little-known phenomenon called psychological distance. Psychological distance refers to how near or far we perceive ourselves to be to a given event or subject. When you think of a problem happening to your friend, not yourself, you’re injecting psychological distance into that situation; when you think of a problem happening next year instead of today, you’re doing the same.

The great thing about psychological distance is that it turns you into a much more clear thinker: rather than getting caught up in the emotions of the problem that’s plaguing you, you focus on solutions instead. Countless studies have shown the benefits of psychological distance in changing perspective and solving difficult problems, so it’s time for you to start capitalizing on it, too.

Let’s look at a real-world example to see how this works in practice.

“Inside of every problem lies an opportunity.” – Robert Kiyosaki

Margaret Sanger: A Problem Solving Case Study

Margaret Sanger was a nurse that was born in the late 1800s. After she witnessed one of her patients pass away from a failed attempt at a self-induced abortion, Sanger decided to take a controversial position and support abortion and birth control as a whole. In those days, the birth control pill was just being developed, and it was seen as the devil in most parts of society. But Sanger was a fiery woman, and she stuck to her guns.

In line with the tenets of psychological distance, Sanger took a step back to see the situation from a new perspective, asking herself these sorts of questions:

  • “What’s the problem I’m trying to solve?” The acceptance of the birth control pill in society to help women seeking to avoid pregnancy due to health concerns.
  • “What causes this problem?” Society’s fear of women being in control of their bodies, which would lead to them having more power in society more broadly.
  • “What can I do to fix this problem?” Empower women to choose the pill for their health and the stability of their families.

Sanger started acting upon her insights immediately, and decided that regardless of the obstacles in her way, she would champion the birth control pill for as long as she lived. In fact, she became a rowdy activist of the pill, going so far as to be thrown in jail multiple times in support of birth control, which was illegal in those times. Sanger found a way around all of the institutions that tried to silence her and ensured her message was heard. Thanks to her foresight and stubbornness, the birth control pill has become what it is today: one of the most important medicinal and societal advances in history.

Most of us don’t face the same obstacles as Margaret Sanger, but we can certainly learn from her journey. If she was able to change how society sees something as touchy and taboo as birth control, there’s no reason you can’t shift your mentality in how you solve problems, too.

Every successful company, product and organization has a problem solver behind them. But problem solving isn’t only important for leaders: companies today are looking for employees who have the same level of problem solving prowess. It’s no longer enough to just be a logical thinker; to succeed in the job market today, you need to think outside of the box and come up with solutions that no one else is thinking of. Apply the process I laid out above, with the story of Margaret Sanger ringing in your ears. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it when it works.

Don’t feel discouraged if your first attempt doesn’t work. Every time you use psychological distance to your advantage—just as Margaret Sanger and so many others have—you’ll gain a better understanding of how to do it naturally. Just as success only comes after a great deal of effort, the same holds for problem solving, too.

Jordan Bishop is the founder of Yore Oyster and How I Travel, two sites to help you optimize your finances while living an international life. He recently published his first book, Unperfect, about problem solving.

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All of us come to this world with our own reserve of magic unfortunately, not everyone can unleash it



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Your life is dictated by beliefs and biases that drive your thinking, behaviors, and decisions



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How to Break the Cycles of Mediocrity and Manifest Your Greatness

There is no greatness without becoming and there is no becoming with authenticity



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In just a few weeks, we will be wrapping up 2023. Can you believe it? This year has been absolutely incredible for me.

I have seen amazing doors opened, new relationships formed and I am seeing dreams realized in my life. While this seems like the hallmarks of a great year, this has also been the most challenging year of my life. With all of the change happening in my life, I have been forced out of my comfort zone and challenged to grow in every area of my life.

I can truly say that I have made the most of my moments this year and I have used everything as a catalyst for maximizing my greatest potential.

As a revolutionary leader, I have the pleasure of consulting and advising leaders around the world to fulfill purpose, realize their greatest potential and make an impact.

I want to share some insights with you that will help you to break cycles of mediocrity and manifest your greatness

Everything legal must come through the matrix

I am sure that some of you are wondering why I am using the term matrix. However, what you have to understand is that I am trying to make a highly complex spiritual principle practical to understand.

Regardless of your spiritual beliefs, every life has an origin and I believe that origin is divine and begins with eternity. You are birthed from eternity and into time to fulfill a unique purpose and assignment in your lifetime and generation.

The matrix is simply the portal or vehicle that brings something out of the invisible realm and into tangible form. The problem with much of the teaching today is that it excludes the matrix. We are told to believe that success is instantaneous and overnight.

Nobody talks about how a dream progresses through stages beginning with visualization and ultimately culminating in manifestation. Without a matrix or portal then everything that you attempt to birth and build will be illegal.

The matrix not only makes you legal but it gives you the authority and power to function as the greatest expression of who you were created to be. 

Every matrix has an incubation process

While many people admire and respect me today, I remember a time when nobody knew who I was or the significance of my message. How did I get to where I am today? I got here through an incubation process.

In other words, everything that has been destined for your life is incubating and awaiting a set time of manifestation. The problem is that most people live their entire lives idle and never initiate the incubation process.

What do I meany by that? Most people are living reckless and very few people are living intentionally. I am amazed at the number of people I have conversations with that have no vision, goals or strategies for their lives. They show great promise and they have undeniable potential.

However, without development they will die with their dreams still in them.

Everything that has been destined for your life must be incubated and converted to become realities born to time. 

“Visualize this thing that you want, see it, feel it, believe in it. Make your mental blueprint and begin to build.” – Robert Collier

You must give expression to that which is not yet born to time

When you think about a matrix or a prophetic incubation process, you have to understand that potential is often unrealized and untapped. In other words, your potential is in raw form and your potential cannot serve you as long as it is untapped.

The thing that makes me valuable is that I have the ability to convert potential into power. I have done it in my own life and I have empowered leaders around the world to do the same. How do you convert potential into power?

First, it is important to note that you have to perceive potential. If you cannot perceive your potential then you can never cultivate your potential. In addition, you must take the time to cultivate your potential. We often get excited about our capabilities; however, we never expand our capacity in order to realize our greatest potential.

In other words, the strength of your potential is only discovered through your willingness to stretch. The more we are challenged the more we are empowered to expand our capacity for greatness. Most of all, you must begin to express your potential. The expression of potential is different for every person.

For example, the expression of my potential is best demonstrated through the thoughts, ideas, products, services, books, etc.

For another person the expression of potential may look like a screenplay, artwork, sports, scientific discoveries, medical breakthroughs, etc.

Regardless of the form of expression, I know that you will live empty and unfulfilled until you make the decision to express your potential. The expression of your potential gives voice to your dreams, life to your vision, significance to your moments and activates your true power.

You must manifest your greatness

As a revolutionary thinker and leader, my work has impacted people around the world. I am grateful that my life is a source of empowerment to so many people. However, before anyone could ever benefit from my life, I had to make a non-negotiable decision to become who I was born to be.

I wish I could tell you that this journey is easy and that you will get there overnight. However, in a world that celebrates us for doing we are often criticized for being. As a result, I wasted a lot of time trying to be who other people wanted me to be instead of being who I was born to be.

There is no greatness without becoming and there is no becoming with authenticity. It is through our bravery to be vulnerable that we ultimately manifest our greatness. We do not bless the world by being a duplicate. We bless the world when we honor our difference. When you honor your difference you honor your potential.

Ultimately, your difference is how you manifest your greatness.

When you present anything but your authentic self to the world, you are playing small and you are robbing the world of your significance. Manifesting your greatness requires you to master your gifts.

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