How To Solve A Problem

It may almost seem like a joke that I am attempting this topic matter, but I am seeing a regression of problem solving skills among the world’s youth. If they experience a problem that cannot be solved with a quick google search, they descend into a fury that blames the world for ruining their lives and being singularly against them.

As some of my older readers may know, life is a series of neverending problems that you can’t always prevent. It hasn’t been stated in the Bible or any other ancient text that problems do not affect human beings, so it is rather peculiar when you see someone in a coffee shop having a meltdown because the internet is not working.

Here is basic template to solve most problems that you may encounter:

1. Welcome the problem into your reality

When the problem hits, your instinct is to panic and hope for a quick fix that ends it for all eternity, but most problems can’t be immediately solved, and expecting to solve them in such a manner will just increase the intensity of your panic. Instead, you must take a deep breath and understand that future obligations, commitments, and plans may be altered because of this new problem.

2. Collect information on the problem

Make strong efforts to gather data, which may include duplicating your problem to understand what is going wrong. Trying to solve a problem before you have all relevant information means your solution will have a lower chance of being effective. If you don’t understand what is causing the problem, seek professional advice. The more information you have, the more likely you will pick the correct solution.

3. Implement the best solution and expect it NOT to work

It may take time for the solution to work its way into the problem. While you wait for the result, determine what your next course of action will be if the solution fails. This is more for your mental sanity than practicality, because if you expect that the solution works and it doesn’t, you may succumb to panic. If you have a second solution ready to go, you will instead think, “It’s okay if the problem won’t be solved with my first attempt, because there is something else I can try that will hopefully work.”

4. Observe if the problem has been solved.

If the problem persists, and no new information has presented itself to you, apply your backup solution. If there is new information, repeat steps two through four.

Now let’s go through this process with two different problems I faced recently.

Example #1

Problem: Visitors to ROK report seeing black text on a grey background

Step 1: I understand there is no obvious reason for this to occur, and that the problem can involve the server, my WordPress installation, my custom theme, or my plugins. I mentally accept that many readers will see an ugly page and be turned off by it.

Step 2: I put a call out for people to send me information when they catch a failed page load. Thanks to their feedback, I was able to duplicate the problem. It was due to a caching plugin.

Step 3: I played with the plugin settings for a period of time, measuring their effect after each change. I figured that if I could not solve it this way, I would install a different version of the plugin.

Step 4: Reports came back that the problem was solved.

Example #2

Problem: I injured my left rotator cuff while boxing

Step 1: I understand that muscle injuries, especially to tendons and ligaments, can take a long time to heal. I will have to put aside boxing.

Step 2: Research on the internet told me to halt all shoulder activity. Once pain has subsided I could do rotator cuff exercises using light barbells.

Step 3: After three months, the injury seemed healed, and I resumed my normal shoulder workouts (but not boxing).

Step 4: I re-injured it slightly while doing a heavy press exercise. I must now go back to step two and try something different, which may include seeing a health professional.

I hope that what I’ve shared with you is common sense, but it’s apparent to me that this advice is uncommonly known for the younger generation, who aren’t equipped to solve even the basic problems that come up in life. Panicking never has solved a problem and never well, yet it seems to be the main strategy that is being used on the increasingly anxious Western world. The scientific approach I’ve described above leads to a much higher rate of resolution.

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  1. Bench != Happy Shoulders November 15, 2013 at 9:54 am

    Welcome to the shoulder club! I was wondering when Starting Strength would catch up to you at your age. Most of us desk jockeys have woefully pitiful posture, scapular control, and a ton of other stuff going on with our shoulders to properly press and bench as much as Ripptoe want’s in his book. Ask around the gym and “rotator cuff” problems abound. T-nation has a “Shoulder Savers” series for those with shoulder issues by a great coach Eric Cressey who helped me avoid shoulder surgery. Diesel Crew offers a great youtube video of a well regarded “pre-hab” and reg-hab protocol.

    Happy externally rotating, rowing, and regaining scapular control!

  2. Giovanni O November 15, 2013 at 10:05 am

    Well said…

  3. Shawn November 15, 2013 at 10:26 am

    Are you moving away from game? Or has everything been said on the matter?

    1. Alexei Prutianova November 15, 2013 at 12:12 pm

      Do you spar at your age? Or is boxing just bag work?

      Boxing is rough on the shoulders.

    2. Roosh_V November 15, 2013 at 1:38 pm

      If I have something to say about game, I will say it, though I have covered a lot of ground.

      Alexei: I was doing bag and sparring. Throwing hooks is what got me.

      1. 404 November 16, 2013 at 10:33 pm

        Mr Bang guides-
        Have you ever done Brazilian Jiu Jitsu?
        It’s a ruthless discipline. I like boxing and have done it and am a fan but if you ever go to the ground or get in close you need to know how to out them out of commission fast via snapping a limb or choking them out. I think bin requires more strength and cardio than boxing. Both are great disciplines. Go to a Gracie School because they are anything but half ass and they do much mat time.

  4. Peejers November 15, 2013 at 10:41 am

    What about problems that rely on other people? You can’t predict how they’re going to behave.

  5. Aurini November 15, 2013 at 11:16 am

    These days I almost never see young people working at the crap-jobs that I and my cohort worked at fifteen years back; now the people working the till at the grocery store or the fast food restaurant are either seniors, or immigrants (often working it as a “family business”).

    A friend of mine is a 22 year old who runs a hotel with his father, and he’s commented that kids his age are utterly useless.

    Old Man Aurini says that the kids have it too easy these days.

    1. F.U. November 15, 2013 at 11:46 am

      Totally agree…I’ve noticed their parents pay for EVERYTHING and dote over them. They don’t have to do chores. They spend alot of time with their electronic toys. They posses TONS of toys. Also, they have developed a “whatever” and “it’s all about me” attitude.

      1. Yours here November 15, 2013 at 12:20 pm

        What I find odd is how the majority of them are built like Justin Bieber and walk around like they are so tough. They’ve played too many video games.

        Does anyone else notice how
        They lack musters compared to guys my and Rooshs age?

        I guess that’s why all the lame stream media says you get generations and older
        Ones in the corporate World
        That older ones have to learn to listen to them whine and help
        Them do their tasks while
        They enlighten us on how to use social media aka big
        Brothers glass
        Bowl into our lives. All
        They know is social
        Media. How
        Sick is that? The truth is the international
        Illuminati Zionist banker Political dictatorship that runs the World is setting them up
        For a fall.
        They’ll crash the system and instead of rugged self
        Assured individuals out here you’ll have a by ch of
        Crying and moaning for
        Help. All of it has been planned to steal
        Freedom- they don’t do all these hints to make life better but only
        To set us up for a fall by becoming totally
        Dependent on the grid so they can take over with total control.

  6. Cad and Bounder November 15, 2013 at 11:20 am

    Of course what you are talking about is a rational and systematic approach to problem solving. The very kernel of the genius that created the enlightenment and Western male civilisation’s greatness. Unfortunately, as evidenced by women’s take up of STEM careers, this isn’t a world that many women seem to care for. They can eulogise for hours about Steve Jobs and their iPhone, but they don’t give a fuck about the guys that designed the thing. That’s just stuff the patriarchy owes them because of centuries of discrimination. Right girls?
    Women, more than men, tend to personalise every debate and draw conclusions based on their own experience. In other words, they prefer to use a data point of one, rather than listen to the evidence objectively. Hence why Oprah Winfrey’s opinions are more important to them the FDA.
    Unfortunately, the dominance of the female prerogative in the MSM is creating severe problems on this issue. There is an almost visceral antagonism to STEM and scientific methodology amongst women in the SMP, and men will follow whatever it takes to get laid. One feminist cunt described Newton’s work as a ‘rape manual’.
    Study STEM? Well then you must be a nerd in their eyes, and since the old beta tactic of having a decent job isn’t working anymore, then guys will move away from STEM. Where does this leave the spirit of science in the West?

  7. americanbk November 15, 2013 at 11:36 am

    Thank you for this post. I’m in my mid-20s and I have definitely been guilty this. Problem of any type arises…

    1. Search Google
    2. Call Dad
    3. Call Mom
    4. Post question to Yahoo! Answers
    5. Create account for problem-specific help forum and start an annoying new thread
    6. Feel disappointed and angry when no one on the internet gives a shit
    7. Panic and assume your life is over

    Luckily, this whole cycle takes me less than 45 minutes. I’m naturally I high strung dude. Only within the past year or two have I added steps 8-12.

    8. Think of the realistic worst case scenario
    9. Understand life is not over, or sometimes even altered at all for more than one day
    10. Gather information

    12. Apply potential solution

    This concept fits hand-in-hand with the argument against wasting time on a generic college degree just because its “the thing to do.” Memorizing facts and spewing them out on tests for good grades doesn’t help you solve REAL problems in life. Give yourself a real education by throwing yourself into some real life “trouble” and figuring it out.

    Also, consumers and (successful, smart) employers pay you to solve problems that can’t be fixed with 5-second internet search. If you didn’t inherit a fortune and your only solution to problems is searching on Google before you cry to dad/mom/coworkers/boss/Obama, prepare to be crushed. Not that you’ll actually prepare. lol

  8. blop November 15, 2013 at 3:07 pm

    A very effective approach to finding the cause of a problem is to ask the “5 why’s”… Fix the cause, avoid just putting plasters over the sympton.

  9. Scott November 16, 2013 at 4:26 pm

    What does an American do if they get sick, hurt, or injured traveling about. Eastern Europe? Are you screwed without travelers insurance? What do you guys honk the best way to go about this as a few months of running game in Eastern Europe is my dream.

  10. No BS November 17, 2013 at 9:28 am

    Good advice. I will add one other suggestion that works for me: patience.

    Many perceived problems will solve themselves over time, or even better, disappear entirely if you allow time to pass. Therefore, you will not have to waste valuable time dealing with them at all. Also, the solution to those problems that remain frequently will become obvious as time passes and other potential solutions become non viable for various reasons.

    It is a young man’s mistake, I believe, to think that all “problems” must be acted upon NOW. Instead, defer acting until the problem is ripe. Ponder your options, and act only when you must. It is counter intuitive, but it works for me.

  11. Mark November 17, 2013 at 2:20 pm

    Obviously none of the steps you outlined were followed during the design and implementation of the Obamacare website.

  12. seductionsextravel November 17, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    That’s so true. I am in my early twenties and so few people in my age are able to address a problem the right way or even address it at all. Most young people do everything to avoid problems and to not face them at all.

    But if you are not ready to solve a problem and always run away the problem will always stay a problem.

  13. Giovonny November 17, 2013 at 6:43 pm

    Cool post.

  14. Phantom November 18, 2013 at 8:51 am

    An important step which is similar, but not exactly like ‘collecting information’, would be ‘understand what the *real* problem is’. Sometimes it’s different than the apparent problem.

    In the specific case of your rotator cuff, I’m ready to bet it was really activated trigger points in your upper back muscles causing the pain. I know cos I fixed the same condition in myself and other people.

    I heartily recommend this book and learning about trigger point therapy. It has proven to be invaluable. (I have no vested interest, just sharing something I found to be very useful).

  15. Cedric November 18, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    What does an American do if they get sick, hurt, or injured traveling about Eastern Europe?

    Are you screwed without travelers insurance?

    What do you guys think the best way to go about this to make the Eastern Europe bang mission with heth coverage happen???

  16. Joe Dick November 21, 2013 at 6:23 am

    ”It may almost seem like a joke that I am attempting this topic matter”

    Not at all. And in fact, not enough has been written about that that ISN’T some stupid American dumbass shit about how ‘anything is possible’ or ‘I am unstoppable’ or ‘ I will be rich’ or ‘live life to the full’.

    All that cheesy trash makes me puke. It’s stuff for delusional idiots. Nothing wrong with trying to stay positive and focused, but a quick look at amazon about ‘self-improvement’ brings on a mountain of crap.

    So, your realistic approach is actually the best: I particularly like point no.3, and I have thought it myself only a little while ago.

    All this isn’t obvious or ‘common sense’ at all, otherwise why isn’t everybody doing it? Also, too often the trashy side of ‘self-improvement’ seems to call ‘problem’ anything from ‘oh man, it’s raining , %(&*() !!! ‘

    to breaking a leg and not being able to walk for 3 months and be alone to deal with it on your own, to lose a job and not knowing how you’ll pay the bills, to make a really bad investment and losing all you have, to becoming lost in Antarctica, or dispersed at sea, to getting divorced from a wife that is walking out with your possessions, your car, your home, your money and your kids.

    If anyone gets angry because it’s raining, or because the internet is not working and you wanted to check your Facebook, he should be bitchslapped. It rained before, and you were living without internet before, so don’t get panicky about that crap.

    The worst I hear from these American ‘guru’ dumbasses, is how YOU are to blame for EVERYTHING that happens to you. I even heard De Angelo saying that if you are walking around and a brick falls on your head, it’s YOUR fault.

    Stupid American dumbass crap for dumbasses.

    Sorry about my being pissed off at it. I spent a lot of time reading all the books and realized it’s crap. Not all, but most is.

    It’s like martial arts: it has to be realistic. Thinking that you are going to learn to fight and win over an horde of ninjas isn’t the same as toughening yourself up and learning how to boxe.

    I would add one thing to your article: write down your plan. The bigger the problem, the more you need to do that. I find that it helps to finalize my decisions as to what I am going to do about the problem.

  17. amateur support November 24, 2013 at 12:04 am

    I have had many shoulder problems from lifting and once considered surgery I was in such constant pain. There is a natural body builder named Scooby on youtube. He talks about ‘packing your shoulders’ which involves relaxing the shoulders and then holding an imaginary orange between the shoulder blades for the duration of the lift.
    Worked for me on everything from bench press to push ups, everything except overhead shoulder press, 8 years and that still causes pain so i dont do that one.