291. Embracing the Problems in Your Life feat. Bernard Roth

unSILOed with Greg LaBlanc

12-06-2023 • 48 mins

Life is all about solving problems—whether it’s what shirt to put on in the morning or how to solve a complex engineering question. And without problems, life wouldn’t have much meaning. But how do you master effective problem-solving skills?

Bernard Roth is a professor of Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University and is one of the founders of Stanford’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (also known as the d.school). It was at Stanford that he first noticed a correlation between problem-solving in engineering and problem-solving in life. So he integrated those ideas into his teaching and wrote, The Achievement Habit: Stop Wishing, Start Doing, and Take Command of Your Life.

Bernie and Greg discuss the importance of embracing the problems in your life, how to become a more effective problem solver, and why reasons are bullshit.

*unSILOed Podcast is produced by University FM.*

Episode Quotes:

Seeing problem as an opportunity

14:54: I live with people who believe problems are opportunities. So the bigger the problem, the bigger the opportunity. And if you think about it, that's what life is about. Life is about problem-solving. Problem-solving is a great activity, and it's not necessarily frustrating. It's not like a disease, you know; it's actually an exercise.

Redefining achievement

17:30: To me, achievement is when you die, your friends don't have to lie about you. And you enjoyed life in a way that you found it to be a life force

Using reasons as an excuse

26:39: The big thing is reasons are often used as excuses. And that's for me the big “so what?” So “reasons are bullshit” is the truth, that they're not the truth of anything because there is no reason for one thing, and who cares? But the point is that if you use a reason, it's an excuse often and doesn't let you move forward.

The idea of failing forward

13:47: You have to do something. You have to take a step. You don't sit there and think and think and think about it; you're taking the step. You get valuable feedback, which you can then use to improve things. So that's our philosophy of this bias towards action and the idea of failing forward. And it seems to work.

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