Wicked Problems Need A Rad Mindset

When someone says the word wicked, many people think about it as a throwback slang word. The words rad, groovy or totally may pop into mind. Others may think of its actual definition, which is evil. We live in a wicked world with wicked problems. And as cool as we may want it to sound, it is not the case. Wicked problems are problems that have many interdependent factors, which make the problems seem to be impossible to solve. The film The 11th Hour, talk about a few of these problems. It discussed and showed the impacts made by wicked problems like throwaway culture, population growth, and deforestation. All of these are wicked problems, that made me feel overwhelmed. Before watching the film, I already had an idea of what was wrong in our world. I knew that there was a problem with throwaway culture and how it was impacting companies, economies, consumers and workers. I, myself, realized that I was guilty of it, but did not know how to change my habits and mindset. Through the first weeks of this my class Wicked Problems of the Industrial World, I learned that the first step to finding a solution is to simply understand the problem. That thought sounds big and scary. Grasping the concept and understanding a problem that effects an entire planet seems like such a big feat. After watching The 11th Hour, I went home feeling very overwhelmed. I saw the wicked problem in a way that placed blame on the world as a whole and myself. I questioned why anybody would let it get that bad and why I, myself, would let it get that bad. This was my first  mistake in understanding a wicked problem. When going about understanding a wicked problem, one must have an open mind and compassionate curiosity about the topic. Compassionate curiosity was a term I had never heard before. I learned that it is just being able to learn and gather more information about something without having judgement while simultaneously identifying how it could be affected or feel (when talking about a person). Personally, this definition felt very similar to the definition of humility. I also struggled with the concept of humility when I first came across it; so it seems fitting I also struggled with compassionate curiosity. Having humility taught me that I am not always right, and I will make mistakes. But I have to use those mistakes to better myself and my work. So I have started making progress in understanding wicked problems by combining humility with compassionate curiosity. I changed my mindset to a new mindset; one where I see myself as though I am not always right, and that everyone else will not always be right as well. We all make mistakes, but we all need to use those mistakes as learning opportunities to better ourselves, our thinking, our responses, and our work. This new mindset has greatly impacted my progress of understanding wicked problems in a beneficial way. I feel like since having this realization, I have been able to take a step back and become more empathetic of others. Another way I have worked on my compassionate curiosity is mindfulness practice. In class we have been learning about different mindfulness practice methods. My favorite method is just simply identifying what is going on in my head, whether that be thinking, making up scenarios, or how I am feeling. This has given me the ability to validate what I was thinking or feeling, but then taking those impulsive thoughts and feelings and recognizing they are not going to define me. This has really given me the chance to learn how to ground myself, my thinking and my responses.  By being able to identify what is happening in my head, labeling them, and then grounding myself has opened my eyes. I realized through this mindful practice method that I was closed minded, overthinking and getting worked up a lot more than I needed to be. Being able to ground myself, showed me that I am able to look at situations and feelings more than once. Taking a step back from my impulsive thoughts and responses allowed me to approach them in a new way. This lead to a new awareness that I need to separate myself from my impulsive thoughts to create a kinder, more compassionate and humble response. This new awareness has helped me foster a new outlook, not only on wicked problems, but also in my everyday encounters. By using mindfulness practices, I am able to give myself many different ways to separate myself from situations I come in contact with. This process of grounding myself and my thinking has given me an open mind. An open mind where I am able to see situations from a different, more caring, perspective. With this new perspective I feel like I have become more humble in my thinking and understanding. I have been able to see that my thinking is not always right and I do not always have the best responses to things. This new perspective is a great start to being able to come up with compassionate responses to these wicked problems we are faced with. I have learned that our responses to problems will not always be right and will not always work the way we intended them to work. So being able to step back, recognize that this is okay and inevitable, has help my progress in finding a response to these problems. I have been able to have healthy and communicative conversations about how I would like to see a change. Being able to talk about, understand, and humbly talk with others about their response ideas has changed my perspective on these issues. I now see that others want to see a change, and that those same people are making mistakes in those responses. However, I can now see they are not all making the same mistakes. These different mistakes can lead to finding better solutions to wicked problems. These first five weeks of this course has been so incredibly beneficial for me and my mindset. In just learning about wicked problems and how to understand and respond to them, I have been able to change my perspective. My perspective has changed to one that is strengthening my relationships and connections with people, but it has also increased something. It has increased my passion to make a difference in the world. I now, more than ever, want to have hard conversations about wicked problems and find a solution to those problems. 

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