Solving for the Higher Level Problem

Oct 23, 2023

When we’re constantly distracted and drained by lower level problems, the higher level ones never get solved. This reality is plain and simple and we may realize it intellectually but aren’t always sure how to fix it practically.

The issue with solving the higher level problem in a practical manner is that you must first take a step back so you can look above the lower level problem. And looking above the lower level problem involves ancient wisdom you have but have forgotten. Let’s talk about it.

“I believe we have an old soul and are seeking that reconnection to mastery.” – Kris Plachy

What You’ll Learn

  • Asking the right questions
  • Revealing wisdom you forgot
  • Not playing for the circumstance
  • Discovering territory with higher level wisdom
  • An exercise to identify the pattern

Contact Info and Recommended Resources

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Hey, hey, welcome to the podcast. This is Kris Plachy. I'm thrilled that you're here this week. I want to talk to you about solving for the higher level problem. So let's go ahead and get started.

Welcome, welcome to Leadership is Feminine. I'm your host, Kris Plachy. Hey, if you have been listening for a while and you haven't filled out a really quick review, I would love it if you would. It does make a difference. And it also means a lot to me. So it's all about me. And if you wouldn't mind, that'd be great.

But in all seriousness, if you're anything like me, when you're searching for a new podcast, you read the reviews. I do. And the reviews help me know if this is a jam I want to sink into. I'm a big referral and relationship based kind of business operator. And so I would love it- if I've been in your head for a spell and you tune in pretty religiously or consistently, if you would share your thoughts, it would really, really mean a lot.

And it does go a long way to helping other women like you find this work. Because, you know, we're kind of special, those of us who tune in here. I like to think that, and I certainly think that you are. So thank you.

So I wanna talk to you about the higher level problem. The higher level problem was something that I learned a while ago by an author who wrote the Achievement Habit. He's a professor at Stanford and he taught a class on problem solving. And the short of the long of the higher level problem and the achievement habit was really about the fact that we tend to focus on low level problems, and that's why they're never solvable.

And one of the most classic examples of that is, how do we fix employee engagement, to use a big one. I used to teach this a lot. That was an example we did. Well, how do we fix employee engagement? Does anybody know? And so what we would do instead is we would go to the higher level problem, right? Which is, what was it that we were really trying to solve, which would be employee retention or customer retention or revenue.

Because what we tend to do is ask a question that's so not really the big factor, that we don't get the movement that we're looking for. So we would go to, okay, so we recognize that we have a low employee engagement and that's contributing to low customer service scores or low revenue or customer churn. Okay. So then what would we do? Then we go up a level and we say, okay, so how do I solve for high customer churn? Now I go from the top down and I think about, what are some things I could do to affect customer churn immediately, rather than, oh, we need to fix employee engagement. So, it's what I see happen every day.

The reason I wanted to talk about this is because Michelle and I have our Monday call. And we've been talking a lot about what we're doing and what you do and what we do with you. Those of you who are clients, I think, you know, we're constantly, I'm always pushing my own envelope on thinking about how I can do a better job and what is it that I really need to be helping you with.

And I think that oftentimes I don't do the best job I can as your coach, because I'm meeting you at your lower level problem. And I'm going to stop doing that and I want to start by us having this conversation here so that you understand what I'm talking about. But if you become a new client, I also want you to really understand what we're doing here. And if you never become a client, I want you to be able to do this for yourself.

So in the world that I operate in, I have, you know, two primary programs. We have the Lead program, which is our weekly coaching program, along with a robust amount of content. We're learning probably too much. It's fun when you over deliver and then people are drowning in it. So we're figuring that out. And then secondly, I have my Sage program, which is for premier clients who want to do deeper work.

But here's what happens is we present with "What do I do with this person in my team who isn't doing their job?" Or, "How do I deal with all of the problems and mistakes that people keep making?" Or, "How do I address so and so, who is my brother in law, who isn't doing their job and I don't know how to talk to him about it?"

So y'all come with your problem, right? And any one of those that I just mentioned to you is a lower level problem. It is not the higher level problem. If you have a brother in law who isn't performing, what is ultimately the issue? It's not how do you talk to them about it. That's not the issue. The issue is why are you uncomfortable talking to them about it? That's what we have to solve. Because we don't want to just help you talk to your brother in law. We want to help you become competent and confident in a difficult conversation.

If you have somebody else on the team, lots of people on the team who are making a lot of mistakes, the lower level version of that problem is how do we fix their mistakes? How do we deal with their mistakes? That is not the issue. That is not the problem we should be solving. What we should be solving for is first of all, why do mistakes drive you so crazy? Why are you wrapped around the axle over a mistake? What is a mistake? What does the business say about mistakes? Not your brain.

If you have people on the team who come to late to work, you're like, how do I get these people to come to work on time? That is not the problem we're going to solve. We're going to solve the problem for why do you have people who work for you still who keep coming to work late?

Women who work with me share some common characteristics, and I want you to hear what they are because I think sometimes women stumble in here and they don't share these, not that they're bad or good. They just don't share these and they get frustrated. So I want to make sure we're clear. And that's true, I think, for people who listen to this podcast. So if you've been a podcast listener for a long time, I'm pretty sure you're going to go. "Uh huh. Uh huh. Uh huh" when you listen to this.

But here's what I know- that the women that I work with for a long time, who see a lot of progress in their growth and in their success as a business leader, they have a sense of personal agency and personal ownership. They take responsibility for their own results. I did a podcast a while ago on the difference between owners and victims. And you guys know that there's people who just end up at the bottom of the barrel all the time. If the world is always happening to you, you're going to get really frustrated working with someone like me because my whole purpose is to help you see how you have so much more agency over any moment in your life than a lot of people are giving themselves credit for.

I believe that the majority of the women I work with are what I call old souls. These are women who have been around the block. And I like to think that what I don't do with you is teach you. But what I do do with you is remind you of wisdom that you forgot.

So if we go with this notion of being an old soul, a master who forgot her mastery, there's so much you already know, but you've forgotten. And then we reroute that all back into sage wisdom, ancient wisdom stuff that, you guys, there's really very little that's new and true, right? Everything is really quite consistently the same. We just think we're sexier and more interesting with all this technology.

But the truth is how we operate and function as humans together hasn't changed much. And those of us who pursue enlightenment and transformation, we are already drawn to that. Because I believe we have an old soul and we are seeking that reconnection to mastery.

And so what I do with my clients is not so much teach it into you, but reveal it back to you. And I'm on that same journey. So the women who also enjoy this work are learning with me. We're doing it together. We're evolving and growing together. And I love that, right? Sure, are there some things I have more competence in than you? Of course. Does that make me better than you? No, we're peers. There are so many things that my clients are so much better at than me. And I love that about them. I don't want to be all of it to you. I that's ridiculous. I just want to be with someone that, you know, at the end of the day, if you have a problem, I'm going to help you solve that thing.

And how are we going to do that? We're going to get you to solve for the higher level problem, not this little thing down here for people who like to gobble up tactics and consume information. This isn't going to work because there's not any thinking involved with that. That's what we're taught in college and in high school and in elementary school, right? It's just rote memorization. It's not accessing depth of wisdom.

The solve for the higher level problem is doing the work yourself. It's not fixing everybody else. And I know that you know, deep in your soul, you can't fix other people, and it's not your job. And yet, head in hands, so frustrated. How do I make them be different? Keep yelling at the problem that way, keep trying to solve the problem that way, but you're not going to. And even if you solve the one for Tuesday at 2 o'clock, guess what? There's going to be another one on Thursday at 1 o'clock. That'll be a different person and a different circumstance, but the same missing wisdom.

So I don't want to teach you how to hold Joyce accountable. I want to teach you how to be the woman. I want to reveal back to you how to be the woman who has a sense of pride in her work, who has a sense of confidence in her expectations, so that Joyce or Joe or Broadwyn or Brian, they all fall under the same space with you. So we're not playing for every circumstance.

What we're playing for is your wisdom, so that no matter the circumstance, you know how to move through the moment. And what I can tell you is as you grow, those moments also evolve, the moments change, the decisions become more complex, more robust, but that doesn't mean you're not the woman who can solve for them. We just have to reveal to you the level of wisdom, the insight, that you might have just forgotten.

Because what I think that I feel, at least, I feel this way with my Sage clients and with women I've worked with for some time, it's like, Oh, I've known you all along. There's a familiarity and a connection that is so lovely that can't be explained. But I think it's mutual when I know that it is. And I believe that there are those of us who are here right now on this planet who are forging into new places.

That's why I work with so many successful entrepreneurs, founders, and even high level executive women, because you're pushing into places that we haven't pushed into, and so you are discovering territory that there isn't a lot of guidance for, but there is a lot of wisdom for. And so, we have to agree that if we're going to become more masterful in what we do, that that isn't going to be found in a step-by-step tactic. It will only be found in the higher level wisdom that will carry you through many of those moments. Not just one, but the onesies and the twosies are what trap you because you think that they're all different.

But I know that if you're honest with yourself, you know, you could do this as an exercise. You could write down the biggest challenges you faced over the last six months. The things that viscerally knocked you off your socks, that you got uncomfortable with, that you felt aversion to, that you got, you know, angry with, burdened by, frustrated in, all of those potential words, right? Anything that is coming to your mind because it got enough of your attention. And I want you to do this exercise.

So what you thought the problem was, is that "I had a customer who complained and wanted a refund", or, "I had an employee who quit unexpectedly", or "I had a star employees performance plummet", right? Just list them all out. And each one of those, I know you think are like individual things, but what if they weren't? What if, in your infinite wisdom, you had to figure out the pattern, the missing higher level problem that needed to be solved, the actual wisdom that you needed to tap. What is that?

What if you had to find that answer? What might it be? Because that to me, my lovely friend, is how you gain more and more competence and confidence and agency. And it is why so many of my Sage clients, who I've worked with now for a while, they'll have these small little eruptions. But it's not the same, because their level of competence in their ability to tap into their higher level problem solving is so much more vast than that finite tactical day to day fatigue that most people are operating in, right?

So think about it that way. And then let's talk about how to continue that journey, how to continue to be a woman who solves for the higher level problem and stops messing around with these onesies and twosies that only perpetuate not solving so that you have to keep fighting through all of the mire. There are bigger insights to have about you as a human, and as a woman, and as a decision maker, and as a leader that I know we could figure out that would buy you more joy, more ease, more peace, all of it. So those are my thoughts for today.

If you like what you hear, you should always go to thevisionary.CEO/lead. Give it a think. Might be fun if you joined us. Talk to you next time.

Lead for Women is now open for registration. If you're a woman and you are also a visionary, somebody who sees the world differently than it is, and you are eager to achieve that through your work and by leveraging the hearts and minds of others, then I invite you to go to thevisionary.CEO/lead and learn everything you can about our Lead program.

While it's not for everyone, it really is for you if you are a woman who is ready to learn how to think better, so you can lead better, and you can live better. You have a legacy to leave here and I wanna help you leave it by enhancing and improving how you show up as a woman who leads. Join us there.

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