Problem or Solutions Focus?

Problem or Solutions Focus?

How do you approach a problem — do you focus on the problem, the reason why, or on the solution?

Every person approaches a problem in a different way. Some focus on the problem , some on the reason why the problem occurred in the first place, and then there are those that think about possible solutions to move straight into solving the problem.

Here’s a story, I found & wanted to share, to get you start to think about the possibilities & your approach to problems:

A farmer died leaving his 17 horses to his three sons. When his sons opened up the Will it read: * My eldest son should get 1/2 (half) of total horses; * My middle son should be given 1/3rd (one-third) of the total horses; * My youngest son should be given 1/9th (one-ninth) of the total horses.

As it’s impossible to divide 17 into half or 17 by 3 or 17 by 9, the three sons started to fight with each other. So, they decided to go to a farmer friend who they considered quite smart, to see if he could work it out for them.

The farmer friend read the Will patiently, after giving due thought, he brought one of his own horses over and added it to the 17. That increased the total to 18 horses.

Now, he divided the horses according to their fathers Will. * Half of 18 = 9. So he gave the eldest son 9 horses. * 1/3rd of 18 = 6. So he gave the middle son 6 horses. * 1/9th of 18 = 2. So he gave the youngest son 2 horses.

Now add up how many horses they have: * Eldest son 9 * Middle son 6 * Youngest son 2 TOTAL IS 17

* Now this leaves one horse over, so the farmer friend takes his horse back to his farm.

Problem Solved!

The attitude of negotiation and problem solving is to 
find the 18th horse i.e. the common ground. Once a person is able to find the 18th horse the issue is resolved. It is difficult at times. However, to reach a solution, the first step is to believe that there is a solution. If we think that there is no solution, we won’t be able to reach any!


People resolve problems in different ways & may even change their approach depending on the situation & who is involved. I find that I like to collect all the information available, take a balanced approach & weigh up various outcomes & impacts on others. Depending on the problem, some solutions may be obvious, however with more complex problems, the solution may require more consideration. Sometimes I find it’s even taking a step away from the problem, hanging out with the kids & taking time out, that the answers become clear. All too often, a problem shared works for me too, talking through the problem with others can provide a different perspective & the solution becomes clear just by talking it through.

How do you find the 18th horse? How do you solve problems? What works for you?

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