Work the Problem: Matt Damon in The Martian

We recently saw the movie The Martian, starring Matt Damon. In the movie, the character tells himself:

“You do the math. You solve one problem…  
and you solve the next one… and then the next.”

“You solve one problem…” is a great mantra when you are facing challenges in your life, and feel overwhelmed and concerned that you will never survive what you are going through.

In the movie, Damon’s character faced death daily, and at times he cursed or cried or stormed. But he always came back to his commitment to try to make it out alive, and the only way to do that was to work the problem at hand.

There are times in life when you will feel like the challenges just won’t quit coming at you. We’re sure you’ve had those moments and you’ll have them again. It’s the nature of life. During those times when all seems lost, we’d encourage you to feel what you feel—curse, cry, and storm if you need to—but then start with the problem that is right in front of you and work it. Consider it from multiple angles, bring all of your experience to bear, ask others for help, get support—do what it takes to solve the issue. Then do the same thing with the next problem and then the next one and the next one.

A couple of years ago, we started the planning for our newly launched Leadership Lab. We knew that we wanted to provide individuals around the globe reasonably priced, high quality leadership training that they could do from home. We knew the framework we’d created had transformed the lives of individuals and organizations—and yet, we had no idea how to translate it into an easily accessible online format. During these past couple of years, we have had our share of cursing, tears, and storms. Then we’ve come back, over and over again, to work the problem that was facing us. There were months when it seemed we would not be able to do what we dreamed of doing, but we kept working the problems as they came at us. Our efforts paid off, and now we have a thriving Leadership Lab.

This week, think of an area of your life where you are feeling beaten down by the challenges, and then identify the first problem you are going to tackle. Pause, create the conditions for you to be at your best and for the people helping you to be at their best, and then take action.

Let us know how you make out.


Photo is copyright Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.

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