2016: Work The Problem

Welcome to 2016. I have to say, I am feeling optimistic about this year. Last year was challenging for a lot of reasons. To be candid, I feel I walked through the fire and I am glad to be on the other side. Along the way I learned so many lessons and through doing so gained some great problem-solving skills to tuck into my tool belt.

Over this holiday season I watched two great shows which really inspired me for 2016. One was The Martian – finally, I know, late to the party. And the other was The Long Way Round which we have already watched a number of times, but it is always a wonderful viewing experience.

The Martian is all about problem-solving. Matt Damon is stranded on Mars and finds a way to continue surviving and communicate with the outside world all while being completely isolated and alone. It’s awesome. My favorite moment was when he was so close to being rescued but there was a problem with how his little spacecraft was going to intersect with the spaceship of his colleagues. The Captain listens to everyone stating all the issues and then she says “work the problem, people.” Love it. I hope to hear her voice in my head all year. Reminds me of Project Runway’s designer mentor Tim Gunn and his mantra: “Make it work”. I repeat it to myself when battling away on a challenging cue.

The Martian is a great sci-fi story with wonderful lessons and great adventure, but it is fiction. If you want to experience a real life lesson in working the problem, watch Long Way Round. Ewan McGregor and Charlie Boorman took on the challenge to ride motorbikes the long way round the world, through Europe, Russia, Siberia, Alaska and Canada.

This documentary series is full of challenges from the very beginning. Even though they had substantial financial resources, many of their problems were a result of mother nature, or red tape or time and could not have been resolved with money. It was great seeing them work through every issue. Sometimes it required asking for help, even though that was uncomfortable or embarrassing due to foreign cultures and languages. Sometimes it required patience. The only option was to stop and wait it out. Sometimes it required getting really creative. But every issue had to be faced and tackled. There was just no other option, literally no where else to go.

Watching Long Way Round I felt like the longer they were on the journey the more they trusted the problem-solving process. Their confidence grew even as the level of difficulty increased. The panic was replaced by patience. It was beautiful.

My goal this year is to openly face the challenges that come my way, and I am sure there will be a few. There always is, right? I want to approach them with the quiet confidence that I can work the problem. I pledge to first breathe, then be creative, patient and to ask for help when I need it, even if it makes me uncomfortable. I don’t want to go into this year scared of impending challenges, I want to embark on this new adventure believing that I have what it takes to work through every one.