How often do you catch yourself saying “I wish there was an easier way to (fill out the blank)”? Or “If only there were a better means to doing (something)”? Do you think of minor everyday problems to solve, or do you constantly have in mind one big issue?
The question you should ask yourself more often as a successful entrepreneur is — what big problem would you solve if it was possible to solve it? Let’s talk it through.
No one has ever solved a great problem smoothly in the first round. The famous EUREKA moment came in a bathtub — but what led to it was a series of brainstorming, attempts, and failures. Consequently, you shouldn’t give up on finding a solution if you don’t frantically scream EUREKA at the very thought of it. Great solutions take time.
To establish a lasting business, you must always challenge yourself and make yourself uncomfortable. As an aspiring founder, you must cherish your intellectual curiosity. Here’s an enticing exercise: think of a big problem that you would like to solve if it was possible. Do not limit your thinking — think of ANY problem. Not the ‘reasonable’ one, the actual one, nor the urgent one — pick the one your mind and heart stick to. Think outside of the box, at least for the sake of this exercise.
Now that you’ve come up with the problem you’d love to solve, allow yourself to think about it without expectations, anxiety or urgency. Do not set a time limit on it, but don’t make it a life priority either. The idea is to contemplate on it whenever it comes to your mind, but to not spend major amount of time stuck with tons of obstacles to the solution.
Say you took a 20 minute coffee break: take a moment to reflect on different ways you could contribute to the big problem solving. Consider all the ideas — the crazy ones, the “impossible” ones, the funny ones, the tiny ones… Do not reject any. Take notes of all ideas in one place, and do not overthink them. Move on with the day — finish your coffee and get back to work.
Revisit your notes after a while, and you’ll realize that some of those ideas aren’t that crazy or impossible at all. You’ll start coming up with the ways to make them happen. Continue the process, and EUREKA — once you’ll find yourself looking at the list of steps toward solving the big problem that’s been bothering your curiosity.
Say, nothing would make your noble self happier than ending famine. You’ll hardly manage to come up with a single idea that will provide food for everyone. But if you feed a hungry person every day and teach them how to feed another — you will make a difference and with time, you’ll have significant impact in the cause.
The important takeaway is that no big problem can be solved with one big idea, making only one, but massive step. Building takes time. Rebuilding takes even more. Solving a massive problem is a massive challenge — but when taken bite by bite, it can be eaten up. Every step you make counts. When you filter ideas constantly, but without pressure, unrealistic expectations, and anxiety, they build up. Some of them are trash, but the other ones are small, but significant steps toward the final solution.
By allowing yourself to process and brainstorm all ideas instead of refusing the small ones and desperately grasping for the so-called “world changing” ones, you will push yourself to think outside the box. You won’t limit yourself with pressure, expectations, or realistic deadlines. You will constantly challenge your intellectual curiosity without the fear of failure and humiliation.
You will become a better leader, a better innovator, a better fighter for the cause. You will inspire others to light the intellectual curiosity spark. Whatever your goal is, you’ll have impact in shaping the better leaders of the future. Being a leading entrepreneur is not easy — but it is way easier when you let yourself loose of creative limits.
Speaking of future leaders and how we can impact their better performance: Creating Intellectually Curious Children.