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.


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