The Secret Question That Makes Sustainable Solutions Possible
Are issues as black-and-white as pundits and politicians make them out to be? Which side should you believe?
Even though our age of political polarization and ideological fanaticism is now beginning to be counterbalanced by a growing thrust to meet more in the center, almost all of us continue to miss the biggest question of all. Not facing this one big question is preventing the effective problem-solving needed to create sustainable solutions to the huge issues we have.
Before saying what that big question is, let me first illustrate it using an example.
In 1976, long before hypoglycemia became a fad, I was diagnosed has having it — after eating meals with lots of carbohydrates or sugar I would get a headache, have huge trouble concentrating, and would find myself unable to remain awake no matter how hard I tried. Much to my embarrassment and my psychotherapy clients anger, I was literally falling asleep during the sessions I did after eating lunch!
My health care provider told me my hypoglycemia was irreversible — that I would have to avoid carbohydrates and sugar for the rest of my life. I told him to give me six months and he could then do any tests he wanted and all of them would show that I no longer had hypoglycemia.
He of course thought I was nuts. Having complete conviction about what I told him but also having absolutely no idea how to accomplish this, I started reading everything I could get my hands on about general nutrition and on hypoglycemia in specific. I quickly found that all the experts insisted they had THE solution to our nutrition problems. The problem was that all these experts’ solutions were diametrically opposed to the other experts.
As a psychologist I knew that when everyone is insisting they have the answer but all the experts’ answers contradict one another, they are asking the wrong questions. I therefore set out on a quest to try to figure out the right questions, trusting that when I found them truly useful answers would not be far behind.
To make a long story short in order to stick to the topic of this IntegrityWatch Blog post, I ultimately found the questions I was looking for. When I implemented the answers these questions led me to, my hypoglycemia disappeared within six months, just has I had promised it would. To this day, well over 30 years later, my lab tests continue to confirm that my hypoglycemia has not returned.
What Happens When We Ask the Wrong Questions & Don’t Even Know It?
What does this story illustrate about problem-solving? In today’s age when pundits and experts proclaim that they alone understand the problem and they alone know the solution, and those experts wildly disagree with one another, you can be absolutely certain of one thing: they are asking the wrong questions!
It’s really quite simple: ask the wrong questions, advocate the wrong solutions. Ideological arrogance is the biggest problem preventing us from doing effective problem-solving with the huge issues we have today, from the economy to health care to energy to the environment to… well… you name it. So is seeking the political center because this means finding a middle ground compromise. The problem with this strategy is that the best outcome possible using compromise as a problem-solving strategy is that everyone walks away from the negotiating table feeling equally ripped off!
The Mindset That Reveals the Right Questions That Yield Sustainable Solutions
Most of us have the wisdom to know that there are at least two sides to everything. It’s not about figuring out who is right and who is wrong. It is about figuring out what all sides are missing that is causing everyone to come to wildly opposite conclusions. It’s about figuring out what each side sees that the other side is missing. It is about humbly combining everyone’s pieces of wisdom to discover together the bigger picture that none of them sees by themselves. The name for this problem-solving strategy is "synergy." It is the only sustainable problem-solving strategy there is.
Think of synergy this way: it’s like putting together a jigsaw puzzle without knowing beforehand what it’s supposed to look like. Synergy is the process of turning over each piece of the puzzle, trusting that it is a necessary piece of the final picture, and searching to discover how that piece fits into and helps create the larger picture.
Few leaders have the humility, the vision, the skills, and the wisdom to do something helpful with the simple fact that there are two or more sides to everything. Few leaders know how to synergize rather than coerce or compromise. And so few citizens know how to use synergy in their own lives that almost none of us requires our leaders to become synergy experts!
So, what’s the one big question preventing us from effective problem-solving with the huge issues we have? The question is: "What picture emerges when we humbly agree that none of us sees the complete picture but that we each are more attuned to part of the bigger picture than others, and that others are more attuned to pieces of that bigger picture than we are?"
The secret question that makes sustainable solutions possible is: "What picture emerges when we combine our respective pieces of the larger puzzle because we know that the complete picture cannot emerge unless we include the pieces I hold AND the pieces you hold?
This is the question that lives at the heart of problem-solving integrity. Problem-solving integrity deficits are the biggest thing preventing experts and leaders from creating the sustainable solutions we desperately need to today’s massive challenges. Problem-solving integrity deficits are the biggest thing preventing the public from recognizing what will truly serve society to support.
Garbage In, Garbage Out
Seeking the center of public opinion is not a solution today because this only works when the public is properly informed. Garbage in, garbage out. For far too long, public perception has been grossly distorted by a combination of widespread journalistic integrity deficits and far too few politicians educating the public rather than bombarding them with self-serving political spin. These two things have caused the public’s "center" to have largely been based on "garbage in."
Catering to a "garbage center" isn’t the change we need any more than catering to those suffering from their own brand of ideological "rightness addiction." Watered-down middle-of-the-road compromise doesn’t create the change we need. Polarization doesn’t create the change we need. Synergy-based solutions are, by definition, "above-center" solutions. Above-center opinions are informed opinions. Only above-center solutions can provide us with the change we need.
The Problem-Solving Solution & How You Can Get Leaders to Use It
It is time for experts and leaders to upgrade their problem-solving integrity through mastering the art of synergy. I stand ready to help, having for decades taught synergy skills to everyone from everyday people to helping professionals to business executives to world leaders.
It is time for citizens to stop accepting the lie that one political party or ideological position sees the entire picture or is capable of creating sustainable solutions by themselves. This lie does not serve citizens or society. It only serves those seeking to gain or remain in power. Rather, it is time for citizens to demand that leaders replace their arrogant ideological rightness addiction with humble synergy skills… or at least that they sincerely endorse synergy-centered problem-solving and then utilize experts who know how to facilitate these solutions.
If you agree that synergy is the solution, here is something you can do to help break our society’s habit of using the ineffective strategies of coercion and compromise and replacing them with synergy-centered problem-solving. Based on who you know, the organizations with which you are affiliated, and/or the media you can contact by phone, e-mail or letters to the editor, do the following:
- Select three local, regional, national or international leaders, organizations or media outlets you are willing to contact. Your contacts might be in government, business, education, religion, cause-based organizations, political action committees, community groups, or your local newspaper or radio stations.
- Provide those you contact with the information in this IntegrityWatch Blog post. Feel free to use your own wording and examples if you like, or simply forward this IntegrityWatch Blog post to them (if you’re viewing this post at www.TheNewIQ.com you will find an "email this" option at the top and bottom of this page). Tell them that the only problem-solving strategy, or media reporting method, you will support is synergy and that you will no longer tolerate or support spin, coercion or compromise as an acceptable problem-solving strategy for dealing with the biggest issues we face today.
- Tell those you contact about The New IQ: How Integrity Intelligence Serves You, Your Relationships and Our World, explaining to them how this multi-award-winning book and its accompanying workbook lay a foundation for making synergy natural.
Please join me in helping to usher in a new age of synergy-based problem-solving that makes it possible to co-create the sustainable above-center solutions we need. To contact me go to the Contact page on www.TheNewIQ.com website.