It's Not About the Shark

How to Solve Unsolvable Problems

David Niven, Ph.D.

St. Martin's Press

It’s Not About the Shark opens the door to the groundbreaking science of solutions by turning problems—and how we solve them—upside down. When we have a problem, most of us zero in, take it apart, and focus until we have it solved. David Niven shows us that focusing on the problem is exactly the wrong way to find an answer. Putting problems at the center of our thoughts shuts down our creative abilities, depletes stamina, and feeds insecurities. It’s Not About the Shark shows us how to transform our daily lives, our work lives, and our family lives with a simple, but rock-solid principle: If you start by thinking about your problems, you’ll never make it to a solution.  If you start by thinking about a solution, you’ll never worry about your problems again.

Through real-life examples and psychology research, David Niven shows us why:

*Focusing on the problem first makes us 17 times less likely to find an answer
*Being afraid of a problem is natural: we’re biologically primed to be afraid
*Finding a problem creates power – which keeps you from finding a solution
*Working harder actually hides answers
*Absolute confidence makes you less likely to find the answer
*Looking away from a problem helps to see a solution
*Listening only to yourself is one of the best ways to find an answer

Combining hard facts, good sense, and a strong dose of encouragement, David Niven provides fresh and positive ways to think about problem solving.


Read an Excerpt


Imaginary Philip and the Problem of Problems


WHAT IF THE bumblebee knew it couldn’t fly?

We all know what would happen: He’d sit around worrying about how fat he is, and he’d never get off the ground again.

But there’s another side to that story. In 1934, when entomologist August Magnan concluded that flying bumblebees defied the laws of physics, he never bothered to tell the bees. And they kept right on flying.

Problems infect our thinking in many ways—but the basic equation is simple. If we let problems define



Praise for It's Not About the Shark

"David Niven has done it again – a short, readable, entertaining, enlightening, and inspiring book for people who have problems. Don't we all? I got some great insights – along with a few laughs – while reading about ways to deal with bumps in the road of life. You will too."
--Hal Urban, author of Life's Greatest Lessons

"David Niven will help you think more, panic less, dream bigger, and WIN."
-- Bob Danzig, former CEO, Hearst Newspapers

"You can bury your white flag now, because after you read It's Not About the Shark you’ll never surrender to a problem again."
---Stephen Pollan, author of Fire Your Boss

"It's Not About the Shark illustrates the power of thinking unconventionally about approaches to many common barriers to success. It shows that alternative methods are often much more powerful solutions than conventional wisdom. Written in an engaging manner, it made me want to read the next chapter after chapter. Wow." --Gordon Bethune, former CEO and chairman, Continental Airlines

"In this useful tome, Niven gives unusual, yet eminently practical, problem-solving advice . . . This fresh, enthusiastic approach to problem-solving will encourage readers to open themselves up to opportunity and make for a valuable addition to anyone’s self-help shelf."
Publishers Weekly

Reviews from Goodreads



  • David Niven, Ph.D.

  • DAVID NIVEN, PhD, is known internationally for translating powerful research findings into practical advice anyone can apply to their daily lives. David’s The 100 Simple Secrets of Happy People – and seven other titles in the series – have sold more than 1 million copies in the U.S., and has been translated in 30 languages around the globe. His work has been featured in USA TODAY, US Weekly, The Washington Post, Reader’s Digest, Redbook, CosmopolitanGlamour, and Health.

  • David Niven PhD


Available Formats and Book Details

It's Not About the Shark

How to Solve Unsolvable Problems

David Niven, Ph.D.



St. Martin's Press