Move the Problem

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I was having a great conversation with my friends Benjamin Birnbaum and Simon Harris this morning. They're iOS developers based in Australia and all around great guys.

We were discussing the challenges of executing on projects and how the fear of failure can either be your greatest enemy or your most treasured ally. Fear seems to be the most powerful force in nature when it comes to individuals deciding whether or not to do their art or build their next product. It's a silent killer, but like any other design challenge we face, it can be overcome.

Wise Words from an Aikido Master

Among his many talents, Simon happens to be an accomplished practitioner of Aikido and he was explaining a concept to me that really hit home.

In true Simon fashion, he said:

I guess if I were to get all philosophical, it would be like in Aikido: one approach is where you become the centre around which you move the “problem”; the other is where you get caught being pulled around the centre of the “problem”.

I immediately began to think about my own life on the web and the troubles that I see facing my good friends every day. Every hour it seems we're hit with a new problem to solve, a new challenge to face. We’re constantly “in the moment” with our split decisions to act, stall, or talk ourselves out of creating a great new solution. We either become the center and control the fear, or we put “fear” in control and we’re left to maneuver around it.

Move the Problem

The challenge, it seems, is in the approach we take in facing fear and shipping great products or art. Our approach is always to cringe at fear instead of seeing it as an opportunity. The moment fear hits us is the exact moment that every single person experiences. We are no different.

The difference between the 10% of people that do great things is that they have learned to use fear as an indicator of opportunity to do great things.

The fact of the matter is that we’re all the same and that anything different or worth doing will bring a sense of fear for the unknown. The difference is that we have to frame the problem at the heart of the fear. We have to take control and move the problem.

The Solution

So if fear is our friend and the solution is to take control of it by “moving” or framing the problem as an opportunity rather than a defeat, how do we practically approach making this a reality in our everyday lives?

Here's what I propose:

  • Acknowledge when you feel the fear.
  • Isolate and identify the problem.
  • Move the problem and reframe it as an opportunity.
  • Execute on the opportunity with the energy you get from tackling the fear.
  • Ship.

What do you think?

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Comments

9 comments on “Move the Problem

  1. This past week I’ve been crippled by the fear that I made a giant mistake in attempting to change careers. I came to the same realization you explain, and it’s what’s keeping me sane :) Great post, Josh!

  2. Work life can be overwhelming with the amount of problem solving we have to do. I go with the flow of fear or ride it. Also know as living in the NOW.

    I also propose you learn your fears then vision your accomplishments. It feels so good to solve problems or move them, but you have to execute and fail to succeed.