Goal Achiever or Problem Solver?

Goal Achiever or Problem Solver?

From: The Desk of Fred Ray Lybrand


Are you a Goal Achiever or a Problem Solver?


I believe the answer to this question is monumental in advancing your career, legacy, family relationships, and overall sanity and comfort in life. I must give Kudos to Bob Biehl for the first clear articulation of this insight. Here’s what you really need to know:

1. Goal Achievers love to accomplish steps on the way to a desired result

2. Problem Solvers love to solve problems on the way to a desired result

Of course, Goal Achievers can solve problems and Problem Solvers can take steps to reach goals. However, the question is “What motivates you?

Are you like my brother who has had a successful career in financial planning? He LOVES to count down by steps and dates to anything he accomplishes. In high school he announced how many days left until ‘graduation’. Nowadays he is doing the same for ‘retirement’ (a few years still remain). He loves to have a plan and work on the first step…then the second…then the third. He also love to run in marathons, which is also a step-after-step effort.

Or, are you like me? I LOVE problems. Crisis is awesome. Relaxing sort of stresses me out. Everything that fascinates me is a puzzle. How do we do this? How can we do it easier? Can I make this go away in one step? Problems mean challenge to me…and they have mystery in them. Running a marathon jazzes my brother, but it just sounds too ‘known’ to me. Frankly, if you keep moving one foot in front of the other won’t you finish? And yet, that is so crazy fun for him and others.

Now, I know from one of my greatest mentors, Robert Fritz, that problem solving can lead to a pattern of not solving problems, He describes it something like this:

Problem Pain Oscillation

While I think he is on target, the same can happen with the Creative Process too:


In the Creative Process there is a striving to create the desired result. As one gets closer (relieves the creative tension), he can easily back off working on the goal. Or, in other scenarios, people get discouraged and change the goal (or lie to themselves about the current situation). It is a common experience of writers to lose interest in writing their stories once they have told the story to someone else.

None of this is hard and fast, but it is pretty simple to understand why this tendencies happen. It’s really all about the Desired Result.

Goal Reachers tend to fail when they have in mind to ‘TRY to accomplish the goal’

Problem Solvers tend to fail when they have in mind to ‘RELIEVE THE PAIN this problem is causing’

The solution for both is a clear enough vision of the desired result so they (a) will be able to organize actions for success, and (b) will know when they actually arrive at success. In some form or another, it will look like this:

Goal Reachers succeed by pursuing an end result that can nicely fit into the statement, “I want ___________________.” Sometimes we are too vague (I call these ‘do better’ goals) so we might ask, “How will I know if I’ve succeeded?”

Problem Solvers succeed by pursuing an end result that means the problem no longer exists. Again, a similar question helps the Problem Solver who asks, “How will I know if the problem is truly solved?”


The steps involved in succeeding are a little different for each. Goal Reachers have a more straightforward process than Problem Solvers. Both are clearly effective, and it could be argued that the differences are a matter of symantics.

Goal Reachers design steps that are simply moving progressively closer to the desired end result

Problem Solvers design steps that are simply removing the obstacles between where they are and the desired end result

If the obstacles (problems) between what you have and what you want are removed, then you will have what you want. If you follow a sequence of steps that lead to your goal, then you’ll have your goal.


When working with teams, or in your own personal venue, it is best to to keep in mind you’ll find you need both processes to be in play. I think of it is being right-handed but needing the support of the left hand. My son, Tripp, has mild cerebral palsy and was taught by his therapists that his hand that didn’t function as well was his ‘helping’ hand. That is a nice way to consider it. If you are a Problem Solver, then I’d suggest you take on removing the obstacles between what you have and what you want. However, don’t forget that you also may need to set a good-old-goal (with steps and all) in order to see the results you want. If you are a Goal Reacher, then I’d suggest you set your steps and get after it! However, don’t miss out by avoiding the need you may have to simply solve a few problems on the way.

Isaac Newton essentially invented his version of calculus to ‘remove an obstacle’ in order to work with the principles he had uncovered in physics. He needed a language for physics, so he invented one.


If you are interested in learning more, especially about my own training in how to Craft Solutions, then click below for the details:


(coming soon)

Solutions Crafting 3D














Taking the limit as X goes to zero means that you never actually get there,
but you get as close as you need to be, no matter how close that is.
Then the "limit" as you tend toward zero -- but never actually reach it
-- gives you the answer.
As X gets small, sin X is approximately equal to X,
so you're always dividing something by itself and getting one.
Then, with a particularly cunning flourish, you end up dividing nothingness
by itself and becoming one.
Which I think means mathematics is the king of zen.
Read More at Cracked.com




happy familyNo day invites conflict like Christmas Day. Consider it as a template for conflict resolution:

I know you are in a rush and it’s all going to work out! But, it’ll work out a little better if you’ll employ some or all of the following three tactics for a better moment (especially for Christmas day). The picture is what we want.

BUT— 99% of us have some kind of conflicts or frustrations with others on Christmas Day . I know it feels horrible, but it’s actually a day just like the rest of the year when it comes to conflicts! We only are EXPECTING IT to be BETTER for 1 Single Day! That really adds to the problem. The other thing that hurts is that we are all different; the very reason we where drawn together. One of my professors you to tell us,


Here are the 3 things you can do for everything to be profoundly better. I won’t take the time to explain why, just try them out and see if things are good:

1. Realize and think about what one of my friends/mentors (Robert Fritz) says, “We are on loan to each other.” That is exactly right. It’s only going to last for a little while. We don’t own and can’t control each other… so, STOP IT!

2. Realize you don’t know the future, but pretend that you do all the time. When you ‘know’ that someone is going to not like a gift or someone is going to misbehave…you are mentally presuming upon the future (and God’s providence). You might be right, but you might be wrong. Why not settle into just being an honest person who can say, “I don’t know.” Is it going to be a good day? I don’t know. Will Uncle Rufus make fun of the cheese grits? I don’t know. Will Cindy Lu be upset about the roast beast like last year? I don’t know. You get the idea…it will free you to allow what happens to just unfold.

3. In any situation, you can finally realize that the circumstances won’t last forever. We live in TIME, which means change. We aren’t yet in an eternal hell or heaven, but when you think something bad will last forever, that is hell. Try saying these words to yourself a few times when something isn’t quite perfect, “It won’t last forever.” You’ll be surprised how calming it is!

Merry Christmas (and the rest of the year)!

Off to learn,

Fred Ray Lybrand

P.S. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Also you can get these regular insight by joining my occasional contact list (un-join anytime): SUBSCRIBE ME

Action’s The Thing

Action’s The Thing

“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing. ” ―Walt Disney Company


In The One Success Habit (You Can’t Do Without), I stress a vital piece of reality…Action’s the Thing. The fact is that nothing happens until something moves (see Einstein). I’m a fan of planning and what I like to call imagination work, but it doesn’t change the fact that when you tweet you get more followers. That goes with advertising or following up with your reports on a project.

A simple way to look at it is to ask two questions (especially if you want to be strategic):

1. What will probably happen if I take this action?

2. What will probably happen if I take no action?

That will sort out a lot, assuming you have thought about what you want to happen!

Go do,

Fred Ray Lybrand

Are Poisonous Thoughts Sabotaging Your Life?

Are Poisonous Thoughts Sabotaging Your Life?

I rarely do this, but I’m piggy-backing on an article I saw this week by Dr. Carol Morgan. She matches my on conviction with one of her mottos, “Change your thinking, change your life.” My own version is—


It’s really hard to think crooked and walk straight


If you haven’t thought about it yet, it is way past time. The way you think about cooking, sales, schooling, love, relationships, driving, playing boggle or Catan, communication, money, government, and makeup ALL affect how you act and react. I used to worry a fair amount about everyone being happy / pleased / grateful toward me. One day, however, wrestling with this brought me to a fresh conclusion as I read how someone else came to grips with the issue by thinking differently. I realized —


No matter what, about 1/3 of the people who get to know you will love you…about 1/3 will hate you…and about 1/3 won’t care about you either way!


That may sound discouraging to you, but it gave me a fresh way to appreciate the supportive people in my life (P.S. Jesus, Socrates, and Lincoln’s numbers where a good bit lower 😉 So, how do you change your thinking away from toxic misbeliefs? Dr. Morgan’s article has some good thoughts (12 Poisonous Thoughts That Are Sabotaging Your Life) about this issue. In fact, here’s her list:


1. Thinking that you are a victim.
2. Thinking that you can change other people.
3. Thoughts that constantly resist “What Is.”
4. Thinking that “The Grass is Always Greener on the Other Side.”
5. Having expectations of other people.
6. Thinking that having a significant other will complete you.
7. Feeling that you always need to prove that you are right.
8. Worrying about what other people think.
9. Thinking there is only ONE right and ONE wrong.
10. Worrying about the future because you feel unprepared.
11. Thinking that money equals happiness.
12. Believing that the past determines your future.


Identifying them doesn’t ‘cure’ them, so what do you do? The most ready-to-use answer is to learn how to argue with yourself (Lord knows you CAN argue if you were ever a teen!). Most of the problem is that these kinds of toxic thoughts get to the level of belief or assumptions. When they get there they are ‘automatic’ in that you just aren’t aware of them influencing your decisions and behaviors.

So, how do you argue with them? Start by answering this one question, “What are 3 reasons this might be wrong?” Honestly, if you’ll start doing that (and adding reasons as you go) you will see this practice start to loosen the toxic thought’s grip on you.You can doubt anything if you question it enough. The other thing to do is to find out what is true and think about that in addition to arguing with yourself. Personally, the Bible has been my best source for this step. Hope this helps.

Off to learn,

Fred Ray Lybrand

If You Manage the Problem, You’ll Keep the Problem

If You Manage the Problem, You’ll Keep the Problem

In the midst of the ISIS crisis in the Middle East, I see President Obama has stated the following:

We know that if we are joined by the international community, we can continue to shrink ISIL’s sphere of influence, its effectiveness, its financing, its military capabilities to the point where it is a manageable problem. WSJ

I don’t know where it heads or how our leaders will seek to deal with the terrorizing of people by this radical Islamic fundamentalist group (beheading two journalists so far), but there is a disturbing lesson in here for all of us. In a later statement, administration officials backtracked a bit saying ISIS must be degraded before it can be destroyed.

However, the disturbing lesson we can learn from these words is found in the single phrase ‘manageable problem’.

If you manage the problem, you’ll keep the problem. -FRL

I’m not talking about politics or government polity. Instead, I am talking about a mindset when we face problems. What needs to be going on surrounds a word like ‘cure’ or ‘solution’ rather than the mere management of a problem. A mindset of bringing a problem to a permanent end is the right kind of vehicle to throw a problem into. If you encounter a problem that can’t be cured, then you have a reality (not a problem). Problems, by their nature, can be cured.

So, what are you facing if you aren’t the President of the United States of America? What kind of challenge is in view? If the President and Congress think that a problem like this needs to be managed, then we are going to see it continue. If they think it can be cured, then there’s a chance someone will see a solution. Curing cancer or human trafficking will come as we look for a cure. Managing these scourges will simply perpetuate them.

Are you trying to make your own problems manageable or are you trying to make them go away forever? Just this one small distinction brings up completely different possible solutions. What if your enduring ‘problem’ has been hanging around simply because you haven’t thought about making it go away forever?

Off to learn,

Fred Ray Lybrand

Why is Motivating Others so Hard?

Why is Motivating Others so Hard?

Motivating others is a pain sometimes, isn’t it? In fact, even motivating ourselves is a problem as well.

The reason is probably a little more simple than we’d like to believe:


I know, this idea seems weird and some of you will look up the definition in a moment. But, think about it. Haven’t you ever noticed how you are not interested in a game, but agree to play anyway—only to find that you are passionately engaged after playing for a little bit? Most of us experienced the same thing with something as awful as homework. Once we get going it isn’t too bad (maybe it’s even a little bit fun).

You see, we are really looking at energy and motion (same root as motivation) when we are talking about motivation. Sure, you have desire to begin with, but the sense of EAGERNESS doesn’t happen until after you start taking action. So, here’s where the rub is when motivating others comes into play. Trying to force others to take action usually amounts to manipulation rather than motivation.

My simple suggestion is to try to inspire them to act (while honoring their own ‘free will’). The easiest way is just to INVITE them to give ‘it’ a try as an experiment. If action begets motivational energy, then we need to be looking to action. Maybe Dr. Seuss had it right with Green Eggs & Ham:

“I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them, Sam-I-Am.”
“Try them, try them, and you may! Try them and you may, I say.” 
If you try to spend time lecturing someone into action, then you are likely wasting your time. If you challenge them to read 10 pages of a book you give them before they put it on a shelf, you might just see something big happen!

Of course, the greater challenge is with ourselves. Why not do an experiment on cleaning your desk or writing that letter you’ve been putting off? Just try taking small actions (whether you feel like it or not) for a mere 5 minutes. If you are like almost everyone else in the world, then you’ll find that your ACTIONS lead to MOTIVATION.

What a cool insight, if I’m right!

Of course, there’s something else we can do that naturally leads to action; but, I’ll save that for my next note.


How to Quickly Stop Being Upset (Part 1)

So, why do we get upset? Maybe you are one of those strange people who never gets upset, but I

always wonder: “Do you care about anything?” If you could answer ‘why’ you might know ‘what now’, true?

I spent my early life being upset about something…especially when things didn’t go my
way. Frankly, I don’t recall things going my way that much!

The reason we think we are upset can vary a great deal. It’s everything from someone else upsetting us
(the devil made me do it), to the stars, my blood sugar, wheat gluten, heat, humidity, or tree pollen. Now,
don’t get me wrong—all those things can affect how we feel as to mood or sense of well-being (maybe
not the stars); however, 
none of them are causing our upset.

Why do we get upset? Moreover, what is it costing you in terms of relationships or income or impact? The
constantly tearful or angry or frightened person doesn’t get too far these days. So, what if you could change it? What
if you could switch your upset off in a moment?

Honestly, I KNOW it can be done. I’m not perfect yet 😉 but I do know how to change my upset into calm. Sometimes
I don’t want to change it (like giving a speech about something that animates me!), but when I do, I can.
The trick is found in understanding why we are upset, and here’s the reason:

We get upset because we are thinking an upsetting thought

Yes, that’s it. But what more do you need? What an awesome diagnosis! What if you could grasp that all your
upsettedness (right word?) is caused by a particularly upsetting thought in the moment? It would mean that
you could change how you feel by simply changing what you are thinking about!

Now, that may sound easier than it you imagine, but it really isn’t. Someday I’m going to complete the course
on how 
to calm your crazy feelings; but in the meantime let me assure you of two things:

A) You can change your thoughts

B) Your upset will change with your next new thought

I don’t have the time to go into all the reasons why it works this way, but just pay attention and you’ll see the 

truth of it.

So, here’s what I suggest when you are upset:

1. Ask and answer, “Am I upset?” You really have to admit it first.
2. Ask and answer, “What am I thinking that has me upset?”
3. Ask and answer, “What are the totally provable facts I’m thinking here?”
4. Ask and answer, “What am I guessing about this that I really can’t prove?”

That will be a great start. There is a curious change that occurs when we separate fact from opinion…and it
works in discussions too. Play with these questions and see what happens. Oh, and give it a number of tries! These
questions will change your thoughts most of the time, and so, your being upset as well. 

Of course, you can change your mind in other ways. You can watch a movie, call a friend, imagine the person
you are upset with wearing a clown suit and talking with a ‘helium voice’ while participating in the running
of the bulls. 

However, I think you’ll find these questions will help you shift your perspective. Let me know what you think.

Off to learn,

Fred Ray Lybrand

Want Your Kids to Write Better?

The Frog, a Snake, and a little Bourbon

The Frog, a Snake, and a little Bourbon

Maybe what you don’t like happening is your fault.  Maybe you are encouraging the wrong
things in your life.  Success is clearly about communication, and we communicate
in many subtle ways.  It may just simply be that you are communicating to others
that you want THE OPPOSITE of what you really want.

Just ask, “How am I encouraging ______________________?”

What does you mind tell you ?

Great…now think about how to encourage something different.  If you only have
creeps coming up and talking to you, change what you are wearing (or where you
go).  If only marginal people apply for the job, change the amount you’ll pay and
where you look for employees.

You may get the idea…but you won’t learn it until you practice it!


Fred Ray Lybrand

Thoughts (below)?

What’s Your Best Advice About Communication?

What’s Your Best Advice About Communication?

First, you need to know who she is and why I would want to quote her.

She’s my mother, Jerri Lybrand, but wait don’t quit here.

In 1969 she was selected as one of an Outstanding Woman of America.  She did all of the amazing things; ran the Leukemia Drive, school PTA, socialite, servant, mother of three busy children.  Of course, there is more since she helped see my dad get elected to two terms in the Alabama Legislature.  She was at factories at daybreak handing out brochures and smiling next to George and Lurleen Wallace, the governor and his wife, the future governor.  She also happened to overcome a divorce, three back injuries, and a serious bout with some personal demons like we all face.  Finally, she was the first or second woman to ever sell cars (Volvos, because they were safe and easy to sell to women) for a living in Alabama.

So, this woman who grew up in Centre, Alabama, answered a question I posed to her as I sat down to write this chapter.  “Mom,” I said. “What’s your best advice about communication?”

She didn’t really even hesitate.  She said, “Stick out your hand.”

In her experience, the best action is to initiate communication.  She then recounted to me how much she admired Princess Diana for this very attribute.  “She was no sooner out of her Limo before her hand was out greeting the people right in front of her.”

As I pondered it, I’m thinking that may be a bit more profound than I’d like to admit.  Imagine if we did little more in life than simply make sure that we were the first person to stick out our hand, what might happen?  Do you as a manager, a parent, a tennis partner,  a visitor, or a client initiate communication or do simply wait for others to extend their hand first?  Honestly, that’s a fine question.

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