“When you’re stuck, go back to basics.”

G’day mate,

This week I was stuck with what to write about.  When I acknowledged that I was stuck, I was reminded of the big sign I have on my classroom wall: When you’re stuck, go back to basics.

So I asked myself, “Why do I want to write?”

Well, I want to write because I know I enjoy it.  I enjoy exploring issues that prick my interest and I enjoy documenting wisdom that I think is worth sharing.

But I didn’t feel a desire to write about anything that had pricked my interest this week, and it was only last week that I shared some wisdom with the blog, “What’s the most important thing you’ve learnt about life?”

So I toyed with the idea of not saying anything at all.

And then I realised that a solution to my problem was staring me in the face: write about being stuck with a problem!

So here are some thoughts about problem solving…

When you get the basics wrong, it causes problems.  So if you have a problem, there’s a good chance that you’ve got the basics wrong.

In almost any aspect of life, there are “experts” who have studied it and subsequently you can find oodles of information about it.

Getting lost amongst all that information is easy.  And focussing on finer points can become an obsession.

But I believe that never losing sight of the bigger picture and remembering the “kindergarten stuff” are really important.

In relationships, for example, remembering why you decided to spend time with each other is important.  If the relationship is not fulfilling your needs anymore, then perhaps your needs have changed?  Or perhaps there are some basic fundamentals that are not happening?

Things like open and honest communication, making time for each other, treating each other with respect, giving each other space, and doing the little things to make each other’s day that little bit better, are all simple principles that are easy to get wrong.

When it comes to your health, remembering why looking after yourself is important, is important.  It might not be about you – it might be about being there for someone you love, and being there 100%, because you can’t give what you don’t have.

We all know that eating well, sleeping well and exercising are important, but not enough of us get these 3 basic principles right.  It is too easy to overlook them and think, “That doesn’t apply to me; I’ll be ok.”

In sport, remembering why you play the game is important.  And although it is often beneficial to study the finer and more complex parts of your game, it is always important to check that you have the basic fundamentals right.

Fundamental things like keeping your eye on the ball, keeping your head still, knowing who your opponent is, using your voice, getting the ball to a team mate, and doing the little “1 percenters”.  Whatever they are in your particular sport, they might seem obvious, but a lack of these basics is often evident in poor performances.

In your career, remembering why you do the job you do is important.  Do you do it to make the world a better place?  Do you simply love it because it’s your passion?  Or do you do it because you need to provide for your family?  Whatever the reason, it is useful to keep your motivation at the forefront of your mind.

Now, my Dad taught me many things, some directly and some indirectly, and one of the most valuable things is the principle of keeping things simple.

When it comes to life, he often quotes his grandmother who used to say, “As long as you have clothes on your back, food on the table and a roof over your head, everything else is a bonus.”

Dad lives by this principle and always tries to keep things simple.

I’ve spent a lot of time solving academic problems, and, like everybody else, have had life problems to sort out.  I’ve even watched episodes of Dr Phil and learnt about other people’s life problems.  And what I’ve learnt is that when it comes to problem solving, there is nothing more powerful than asking, “Have I got the basics right?”

To answer that question, you need to have:

  • a clear vision about what you want,
  • an honest assessment about where you are now, and
  • an understanding of what is really important.

Whether it’s solving a maths problem, a relationship problem, or deciding on what to write about, focussing on the basics is a good place to start.

As a famous man once said, “Keep things as simple as possible, but no simpler.”

So, ‘til next time, keep it real and keep it simple.




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