From one of James Clear’s newsletters:
One type of person approaches a situation with the mindset of, “How can I make this work?”
Another type seems to approach each circumstance with the mindset of, “What are all the reasons this wouldn’t work?”
Both people will be forced to deal with reality, but the first person will only have to solve problems that actually occur while the second person will often avoid taking action entirely because of the potential problems they have dreamt up before starting.
There will always be reasons to not do something. Be a problem solver, not a problem adder.”
Of course, sorting all people into two buckets like this is nonsense, that’s not how humans work. But I think people fall on a spectrum from “problem adder” to “problem solver”.
My natural inclination is to be a problem adder. When someone describes an idea to me my mind immediately goes to the 15 reasons why it wouldn’t work. It is just how I’m wired. I’m always willing to give things a try and attempt to solve the problems of course, but I can’t help but be aware of them.
Enter my boss: founder of CodePen Alex Vazquez. Alex is at the opposite end of the spectrum. He is an incredibly optimistic and ambitious problem solver. We used to have conversations where he’d describe his ideas to me and I would start listing off the reasons it may not be possible. He’d say: “forget about that, assume all that is solved”. Excuse me? Just assume these problems are solved?! This was nonsensical to me.
Over time and many conversations, and us reaching the outlandish goals he’d set, I saw the real value in being a problem solver. I stopped thinking so much about all the reasons why something wouldn’t work and instead started assuming we could solve them. Even better, Alex taught me how to look for ways to remove the problems altogether. Instead of thinking “what could go wrong” I am now more likely to think “what if it were easy? how would that work?“.