Back when I was in my late teens – not all that long ago really 😉 – I vividly remember an occasion where I asked a simple question and didn’t get the answer I was expecting.
I was working in a licensing position where we regularly had to forward copies of permits to regional offices throughout the state and we would use post codes in order to determine which office to forward the documents to. It didn’t take long to learn most of the state’s post codes by heart, but whenever we didn’t know the post code for a particular area my co-workers and I would just ask out loud and someone else would surely know.
On this one occasion, I made the mistake of asking our supervisor for a post code. Her reply was a short, sharp, “Do I look like a post code booklet? Look it up!”
I was a little miffed at the time. After all, we were merely being efficient. Why waste an entire minute or so looking it up when someone could just tell you in a few seconds, while you continued working away?
However, miffed as I was, that was an incredibly powerful lesson for me. After that, I made it a policy to rarely ask for help unless I had first attempted to solve the problem myself.
This skill has served me well over the years, particularly when it comes to small business management skills.
There have been countless times when I didn’t know how to do something and could have phoned someone for help or submitted a support ticket. But by first striving to find the answer myself I have saved many, many hours of precious time by not having to submit the question and wait for a reply. More importantly, I have learnt so much more than I would have from just asking up front, not to mention understanding the process more by researching it myself.
And let’s face it, generally it can be a pretty good feeling when you’ve figured out how to do something for yourself.
So, what’s my favourite tool for problem solving these days?
(Or Yahoo or Bing or MSN)
While there are some areas where I probably wouldn’t trust information from the Internet, you can find answers to so much here, especially when it comes to business issues or how to do something with your computer or a specific software application.
Whenever I need to know how to do something now, I simply ‘Google it’.
Now, a handy hint here: it helps to be specific. I will generally type something like, “How do I do xyz in ABC?” In fact, it was by searching on, “How to add a custom header to WordPress Thesis theme” that I found this excellent blog post on how to add a banner image to your Thesis header – a post I’m so glad I found and have since recommended to others many times over.
If your original question brings up too many possible answers, try being more specific with what you search for. Or if you don’t get enough results, be a little broader in your search terms.
If you want something instructional, going direct to YouTube can be a good idea. Again, you can find out how to do so much by searching for it in YouTube.
Sometimes getting the best answers for problem solving comes down to asking the right questions. But then if all else fails … ask someone else for help 🙂