Be Your Best

Archive for January, 2016

The Beautiful Proble-tunity

by on Jan.27, 2016, under Blog Posts

Todd Gifford - Success Coach

Todd Gifford – Success Coach

I heard someone say “proble-tunity” the other day, and I instantly wrote it down as a great word that I needed to think about and share with others.  Proble-tunity is an absolutely jewel of a word.

The reason I love the word is that I cannot remind myself enough that problems do equal opportunities.  And in one single word, it describes a complete success mindset principle.  It is a cliché yes, but the reason it is a cliché is because it’s true virtually 100% of the time.  But it is easy to forget about this principle, as most people do — or they simply don’t see things this way.

I feel that just having a fundamental “proble-tunity” mindset creates breakthrough success at many different levels.

Problem = Opportunity = Problem-Solving = Massive Value

First, the proble-tunity mindset is extremely effective when dealing with other people in your business and personal life.  Everyone has problems occurring every day, and really almost hourly.  If it is not a small problem, it’s a big problem.  Think about it.  How many days go as planned or desired?  How many projects going ultra smoothly with no hiccups or problems?  How often are unforeseen curve balls being thrown at people?  Really, the “normal” course for just about everything is problematic in some way or potentially many ways.  So, if you are [actively] looking for proble-tunities with other people, it is a fantastic way to add or create value.  Taking other people’s problems and solving them (the bigger the better, but sometimes small nagging ones are extremely meaningful too), is a very valuable skill.  And I do use the word skill here because I do feel strongly that problem-solving is a skill that does require practice and effort to become a master at it.

Second, having a proble-tunity mindset when looking at your own problems can be tremendously valuable and fuel success.  Another way someone might describe this mindset is being “optimistic”, but I feel that having a proble-tunity mindset is fundamentally different than just having blind optimism.  To me, there is pessimistic, there is optimistic, and there is proble-tunity mindset.

Opening the Proble-tunity Black Box

Rather than just think “every problem is an opportunity” (blind optimism), when you are confronted with a problem, really step back and think about why this problem is a “problem”.  Without getting too down in the weeds technical, I like to take a page out of the Quality Systems and Six Sigma handbook when looking at a problem and do a quick 5-Why analysis of the problem (ask yourself “why” up to 5 times).  Most of us have probably been involved in Quality Corrective Action resolution at some point, where you use a 5-Why process to determine true root cause of a failure or error.

This 5-Why approach is super effective when you are looking at a problem you are facing to get at the root of the matter AND most times for me, presents an obvious solution that either resolves the problem — or better yet, actually takes the problem and turns it into something BETTER than what I had before.  This is where the magic of Proble-tunity comes into play.

The Magic of Proble-tunity

Using the 5-Why approach (and I rarely, if ever, get past 3 “Why is that?” questions before I find a clear solution or great idea), you open the black box of a problem and discover aspects of your situation that you likely never thought about before.  In other words, new doors open as a result of the problem ‘road block’, and if you go through those doors, new [better] ideas emerge as a result.

As I many times have noted, discovered, and said over my last 20 years with DEE, some of our greatest implemented new processes/systems have come as a result of an error that was made.  Now, this is a bit of a paradox situation —- you don’t want to have or create errors or failures fundamentally, but if making an error generates an incredible new idea as a result, how truly valuable was that error or problem?

The Proble-tunity System

The true KEY is that when that error, failure, or problem happens, you personally have to have the proble-tunity mindset, and more importantly a disciplined system/process in place as a result of that mindset, to analyze the problem (5-Why or other means) and achieve breakthrough solutions/ideas that truly transform problems into proble-tunities.

This all sounds like a corporate Quality System mumbo jumbo, but the fact is that individually applying this proble-tunity mindset and some basic problem-solving and root cause finding process to problems that come up for yourself and others can generate massive value. And creating massive value means success.  And who does not like success.

The Hidden Gem

To me, the true hidden gem in all of this proble-tunity stuff is identifying better ideas than what existed before the problem happened, not the ‘solving’ of the problem itself.  The solving of a problem is fine and good (that is making the problem go away, sort of going back to normal).  But the real gold nugget within the proble-tunity mindset is innovating a better, superior result because of attacking and focusing on a problem in a concerted way — and that happens because there was a problem in the first place!

I talked about the process of really analyzing a problem’s cause as a key part of the Proble-tunity mindset.  The other key ingredient is applying creativity to the solution or innovation side of this process.  Some of us struggle with that creative or brainstorming process, and I have written a White Paper specifically on the Creativity “Process/System” that can be used (like a checklist) to turn ‘non-creative’ people into highly creative innovators.  Creativity is a practiced process more so than a born-with gift.  If you would like a copy of this Creativity Process Reference Guide Report, just send an email to, use a Subject of “Creativity Process Reference Guide”, and provide your Contact/Title/Company information.

Be Your Best,
Todd D. Gifford

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‘Braking Later’ Means Big Success For You

by on Jan.20, 2016, under Blog Posts

Todd Gifford - Success Coach

Todd Gifford – Success Coach

In Formula One Racing (basically the “Indy 500” type race cars, which is absolutely huge in Europe and worldwide), the fastest racing on the planet, reactions in fractions of fractions of a second make the difference between winning, losing, and potentially dying vs. staying alive.  I picked up on something in Formula One Racing, and specifically, from one very successful Race Driver in that sport, that I think is a ‘golden nugget’ and applies to business and pretty much success at anything undertaken.

I watched an interview recently with Lewis Hamilton, a 3-time World Champion in Formula One racing, who drives multi-million dollar race cars and wins races all over the world.  Hamilton is the youngest World Champion in Formula One history, achieving this status at age 23.

When he was talking about ‘what makes him so successful?’, besides the things I expected him to say in answering this question:  massive passion, starting racing at a very young age, supportive parents, etc… I heard him mention an additional factor that was subtle, but I think incredibly profound and important.

Braking Later

What I heard Hamilton say is that he went from being very good to great as a race car driver when he was taught the most important lesson of all in race car driving by his father: the importance and value of braking later and harder when going into turns.  When I think of race car driving, I naturally think of pressing harder on the gas pedal, acceleration, achieving highest speed, etc… for what wins races.  Braking and slowing down better does not seem like a super important element — but I am not a race car driver!

Hamilton was taught by his father, who had to self-teach himself about racing while Lewis was young in the sport, that ‘the best race drivers brake “here” in this turn’ — “you, Lewis, want to brake much later, and harder, in the turn here”.

When Lewis Hamilton started mastering the process of braking later and harder in the turns than all the other drivers, he began to dominate racing.  He still attributes this element or process/skill to his dominance today.

How ‘Braking Later’ Can Impact You

On the surface this braking later and harder in the turn thing would appear to have no relevance whatsoever to anything except for racing.  But…I thought about what this breakthrough of braking later and harder meant in racing, and if this concept can be adapted to business or personal life success.  And…I think there is a golden nugget lesson.

What braking later and harder means in Formula One Racing is that Lewis Hamilton was testing and then mastering taking a calculated risk in an area of the sport that may not have been exploited or understood to be as impactful as it really is or can be.  Lewis’s dad studied racing and determined that one common denominator of the best and fastest drivers was that they braked later and harder in the turns than other drivers.  He then theorized that if Lewis could brake even later and harder than those best drivers were, then he would be even faster than them.  Hamilton tested and practiced this process over and over, pushing the point of braking later and later in the turns.  Even though braking later and harder is “risky”, which is why drivers do not naturally do this beyond their comfort zone, by “testing” taking this calculated risk Hamilton could then reduce the risk by practicing and mastering this very specific skill.

The way that I adapt this concept to business or personal life success is this:

If you take the time to analyze your life or business/job aspects that are important to you, there should be trends or themes or aspects/elements that you may not have previously dug into or pushed or focused on.  When those are identified, it is very valuable to test/experiment taking a different approach(s) on those areas to see what happens.  Even though the tested approach may be “risky” in your mind, you can test in a small way that highly limits your risk while you are seeing what the impact is of your new approach.  In Lewis Hamilton’s racing example, when he was testing braking later and later and later in the turns, I am certain there were no other cars on the track and no walls to run into!  In this way, the testing could be done while minimizing the risk.  When the testing results in a breakthrough finding, then that new process can be focused on and practiced, and mastered.  By practicing and mastering what appears to be a risky process for everyone else, you can reduce the risk dramatically if you are a “master” at it.

I think another big key here is that just simply watching what everyone else does and “copying” them does not produce huge success in business or in life.  Copying what you see as success can produce “good” results, but I think the gold nugget lesson is that to drive extraordinary results, you have to look at good and great examples, find critical-to-success potential areas of focus, and then test alternative approaches or processes to find breakthrough opportunities.

Hard, But Worth It

All this is easier said than done.  First, you have to take the time to step back from what you are doing to think and analyze the bigger picture in order to find the critical areas of potential focus.  Most of us are moving and doing what we are doing such that stepping back and analyzing the big picture may seem like it is unproductive or a waste of valuable time.  And then testing a risky process or alternative approach — well, riskiness creates fear in many cases, and fear can stop us from trying a new or different approach.  In nearly all cases, the fear we have is simply our fantasy of a potential bad experience that appears real, but is not.

Taking time to identify critical areas to test alternative approaches, and then testing those in a way that minimizes risk, has the potential to unlock breakthroughs in many aspects of life.  Finding and then practicing the successful alternative (and usually unconventional) approaches can be career- and life changing.

Be Your Best,

Todd D. Gifford

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