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How Rubber Ducks Solve Problems

rubber duck

🎵 Rubber ducky, you’re the one. 🎵

Do you recognize the reference? Chances are, you’ll get it if you’re of a certain age. For the young ones out there, let me end the suspense.

I’m talking about Sesame Street.

Two roommates named Bert & Ernie. They lived in an apartment and this was the song Ernie used to sing in the bathtub.

Getting Clean

We take baths to get physically clean. Rubber duckies help.

But we use the concept of getting clean in many other ways. In a spiritual sense, cleansing ourselves is an act of preparation, sometimes atonement. Mentally, we clean ourselves by releasing old thought patterns and replacing them with new ones. And emotionally, getting clean means resetting negative emotions with positive ones. The Emotional Guidance Scale helps with this recalibration.

It feels good to get clean. It represents growth, progress. Ask any addict and she’ll agree. Ask someone experiencing mental illness and he’ll tell you. In fact, ask any human and you’ll hear, there’s relief in getting clean.

So how do you do it?

Seeing the Dirt

You start by seeing the dirt.

Getting dirty is fun and even satisfying at times. I’m picturing those obstacle course races where people crawl through mud and emerge victorious with huge grins on their faces.

But no one wants to be in the dirt very long. Getting clean, then, means removing the dirt. Clearing cobwebs. Cleaning up your act. Spring cleaning. There are so many ways to describe the experience.

You can even get clean through “rubber duck debugging.” Huh?


In software engineering, rubber duck debugging is a method of debugging code by describing a problem to, you guessed it, a rubber duck. The idea is you talk out loud to a rubber duck and explain each line of code so you can find the source of the problem and then come up with a solution.

Sounds silly, and it is, but logic only gets you so far. Now you’re stuck. In the mud.  You’ve got a problem and you can’t find the solution. So, try silly. Why not? When you try something new, silly or otherwise, it’s invariably from a different perspective, which helps you shake up your ways of thinking and doing.

Being Silly

Silly is playful. Childlike. We’ve talked before about being in flow. When you’re in flow, time ceases and you are open and curious like a child.

In this playful mood, solutions arise naturally, sometimes one at a time, sometimes many. There’s no judgement in silly. I compare it to the rules of brainstorming. Don’t evaluate the ideas when you’re brainstorming. Just get as many on the table as possible.

Problem Solving

Rubber duck debugging makes you a better problem solver. You become better at resolving challenges by removing blocks. Those blocks are your obstacles as you move through the mud race from dirty to clean.

Click here for more tips on removing obstacles, aka “getting unstuck.”

As I said, the trick is your willingness to adopt different viewpoints. Think of your perspective on a topic like soap.  You use soap to remove dirt and get clean. Is Dove the only way to get clean? How about Pear’s or Clinique or Aveeno? You get the idea.

There are lots of soaps, i.e. viewpoints, out there. When you’re stuck, it’s usually because you think Dove is the only option. You can get clean many ways. Rubber duckies help.

Header Photo by S. Tsuchiya on Unsplash, Photo by Diane Alkier on Unsplash, Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash

Next time you’re stuck, try the rubber duck method. I bought one myself yesterday when I went grocery shopping and coincidentally found rubber duckies for sale. See your rubber duck as a way to get clean in all quadrants, mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual.

Ernie, you were right.

You have to be open minded in order to grow. The coaching that Laura gave me opened my eyes to what and how I was doing things and allowed me to see the bigger picture. I am not done yet but I already see the changes in my everyday life.


I think coaching is a great way to help you clear your mind when you get stuck with overwhelming situations or when stepping into changes in your life.


Coaching is life changing. It pushes you outside your comfort zone and challenges your perspectives.  It is highly motivating and the exercises and techniques used are both fun and informative.  I think the main benefits of coaching are to see yourself, others and the world more clearly.  I think coaching is valuable to anyone regardless of where you are in your life or career.


I honestly never thought I’d need a coach. I thought coaching was for CEOs and industry VIPs. I didn’t think it was for the “little guys” (i.e. me). Now, I’m of the belief that everyone – yes, EVERYONE – needs a coach. Coaching has really benefitted me and I’m so grateful to have had that time with Laura. It’s changed my life!


Laura is very patient. She took the time to understand what was causing me to be stuck where I am today and help me build a better vision so I can continue to grow.


I think Laura’s coaching was what I had been waiting for. Laura was so approachable, kind, and open. Her willingness to help and support made a difference for me. I found in her coaching new strategies, ideas, and perspectives that I could incorporate into my goals and objectives that I didn’t see before.


Laura is an incredibly intuitive, positive and caring coach. Her techniques helped me recognize both my strengths and areas I might want to explore as I embark on the next chapter of my career. The exercises she employed were instrumental in providing self perspective and challenging my frames of reference.


Laura is a natural coach. Her probing and compassionate questions helped me learn about myself: my value system, interests, goals and strengths.


Coaching sessions with Laura gave me new perspectives on how to process specific feelings and situations in life.  She showed me how to sit with my emotions, acknowledge them, and then use visualization strategies to move through them.  I now feel more confident and in control of how I choose to walk through life.


From the beginning, Laura put me at ease, creating a safe, open space for me to talk and share freely without fear of judgement. I loved the variety of approaches she used depending on the topic we were working on and it was fun being able to try out things I wouldn’t have considered before! With Laura’s coaching, I substantially grew my confidence in the workplace, overcame fears, dealt with issues I’d been carrying around for many years and, most importantly, learned to value myself and define a path forward into the future.


Laura’s coaching was a breath of fresh air and EXACTLY what I needed at that point of my life. I didn’t realize how impactful coaching was going to be, but by the end of the sessions together, I left feeling refreshed, inspired and genuinely curious about what my future held for me. Because of Laura and her coaching, I believe I became a better person – someone who is more open-minded, someone with a clearer focus, and someone who is willing to explore opportunities and possibilities far more than I ever did before.


I engaged Laura for coaching as I took on an expanded role leading an asset management company in Canada. As a female, I knew I would be a role model and had high expectations of myself. I was feeling overwhelmed and anxious.

In our first few coaching sessions we worked through exercises that allowed me to reflect on my purpose, leadership style and what mattered most to me. I continue to be grounded by the clarity I achieve in my coaching sessions – allowing me to be resilient and confident when challenges came my way.