Ethan Hunt’s mission (Tom Cruise- Mission Impossible 4), that he’s already accepted, is to pacify a diabolical master-mind bent on starting World War III is. To do this, Ethan needs access to the highly-secured server room nestled within the world’s tallest building, the Burj Kahlifa All “safe” options to enter this room are useless. The last available course of action is a ‘take or leave it option’ – entering from the outside… And off he goes, in Ethan Hunt fashion, scaling the building, unaided by a harness – but by futuristic suction-gloves.

A glove malfunctions, leaving Ethan dangling 3,000 feet from death. Oh, did I mention that a skin-stripping sandstorm is just off the horizon, gunning directly towards him? I would say Ethan Hunt has a – “problem”….

Whether in the cinematic world or in this “real” one, when wishful expectations fail to match what actually occurs in reality, that’s when we realize a problem exists. But, truth be told, the problem isn't usually the problem; it’s how we deal with it. This is key.

We all have reflexive responses for dealing with common situations which arise. Some work well, others don’t; the interesting thing is, we continue to employ tactics we know are useless, like ignoring, making excuses, blaming others for a problem, etc. and keep getting the same empty results. It’s like beating one’s head against the wall – stop!

Recognizing that a problem exists also presupposes that a solution is present, though hidden – temporarily. Albert Einstein famously said, “…The significant problems we face today cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them!...” In other words, if we are to unearth solutions for what we perceive to be an existing issue of concern, then a revolutionary perspective, a new way of thinking needs to be exercised.

We can start by first defining what the problem is. This requires several things: One, we take some responsibility for the issue at hand. Simply put, what was your role in making the problem exist? What did or didn’t you do? For example, your consistent cell-phone usage while driving consistently gets you pulled over by a police-officer who routinely gives you a ticket. Blaming or arguing with the officer does not solve the issue. Taking some responsibility for the act offers you a new vantage point from which you can *see solutions for your problem.

Second, focus on solutions. Visualize the outcome; ask solutions-based questions, instead of riveting your attention on the problem, thus feeding it unnecessary energy. Adding to the example above, instead of the driver paying attention to the anger and frustration triggered by receiving the ticket, he/she can focus on safe driving, and ask solution-based questions such as, “How can I eliminate getting tickets and drive safely on the road?” (Can you construct additional creative solutions-based questions?)

Third, we've either said these words, or have heard someone say them, “I need to get some space, some distance from the problem!” A hidden power resides in this statement. However you do it, physically or mentally, putting distance between you and the scenario in question shifts your state of mind and perspective, thus helping you to find creative solutions.

Adopting useful beliefs are also important when searching for creative solutions. Beliefs aren't “wrong or right,” per se; they are just useful, because they act as discriminating doorways, halting incompatible thoughts, ideas, and behaviors from entering one’s mind-space. Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) contains many useful beliefs that can be applied to solutions-based thinking.

Some of the following are:

Failure versus Feedback

We've all seen movies where the hero fires a heat-seeking missile at the villain. But the agile villain constantly dodges it, causing the missile to fail in connecting with its target. But the missile, as if it has a mind of its own - self- corrects - and gets back on its aggressive course…and does connect with its target. Failure versus feedback can be likened to this missile. Instead of calling your results, a failure, think of them as - feedback. It’s this information feedback you use to re-calibrate, so that when you get back on course, you’re armed with more information as how to navigate, to get things done, so you accomplish your goal.

Humans Have the Resources to Affect Change

Most of us have become accustomed to doing things a certain way. This oftentimes can lead us to believe that no other approaches exist to get the same task done, and that problems are bound to occur when this singular tactic can no longer be used. As previously stated, beliefs are neither wrong nor right, but useful.

Finding ourselves in a pinch is no excuse for staying there. Adopting the belief that we have the ability and power to influence our outcome is a good step in the right direction. For example, Ethan Hunt, after having gained access to the server-room, now must urgently get back to his team – asap! However, from the looks of things, he’s in some serious trouble:… Both of his futuristic climbing gloves (the only climbing gear he has) are destroyed, he’s several-thousand feet up, a dreaded sand-storm is minutes away, and he can’t use the elevators. What’s he to do?

If action reveals character, then it’s clear from witnessing Ethan Hunt’s previous exploits that he possesses certain abilities: He has the mental prowess to push aside fears; he can prioritise, focus and he’s always committed to a cause. These qualities are what Ethan accesses and utilizes…Ethan Hunt straps himself to on one end of a fire-hose, throws the other end out the window and races down the side of the building, … escaping, without the use of magical powers, but by taking advantage of resources that are already within him.

Like Ethan, we, too, can utilize the built-in resources unique to each of us, and also what's within our control to discover solutions. Examples of people doing such things, refusing let their circumstances limit or imprison them, are abundant.

Author's Bio: 

John G. Johnson is a Neuro-Linguistic Programming Trainer (Certified through the Society of NLP). He regularly conducts trainings in NLP, creativity Enhancement and Goal-Setting and works with Martial Arts school to improve their performance in the USA and throughout the world. For future seminar dates and for more articles, please visit: