As a professional Software Engineer for several decades, I like many others, have had my share of successful software projects. I’ve also had my share of challenging ones. I doubt any of us really remember the easy ones that took little to no effort to complete. Instead, it’s the really difficult ones that we remember and talk about like war stories.

The fact is, we should never shy away from these difficult problems. It’s these tough ones that force us to grow. We often rise to the occasion to complete them since they typically come unexpectedly and during a time crunch. Once we have successfully navigated a challenging software problem we are now better prepared to handle even more difficult problems. It’s like we just took five steps forward in our development, when on a normal day we would have only taken one.

Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. once said, “One’s mind once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions”.

Our having a positive attitude at the start of a challenging problem, will more than anything else, lead to a successful solution.  The proper attitude is like a magnet for good ideas and collaborative thinking. We can come up with many ways to effectively solve any given problem when we approach it with the full expectation of solving it. A positive mental attitude encourages our ideas to flow towards the solution. It makes the challenge appear smaller and easier to overcome.  Our expectation becomes one of success and failure an impossibility.

It was William James of Harvard that said, “The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind.”

One habit I’ve formed that causes me to stay on the optimistic side of a major problem, is that I take it as a personal challenge.  I want to prove to myself that I can do it.  The idea that I can use my creative thinking and come up with a solution that meets the timeframe and requirements energizes me.  Solving problems creatively is one of the things I love about this career field.  I can’t seem to get enough of them and I tend to look forward to the challenges.

One word of caution, never engage in lengthy discussions on all of the reasons we cannot do something.  This only leads to bitterness, frustration, and doubt.  Instead, we must focus all of our energy on the possible solutions with a positive, expectant attitude.

And as a final word, remember what Earl Nightingale said, “It’s our attitude at the beginning of a difficult task, which more than anything else, will bring about its successful outcome.”

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