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


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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