The Deeper Value of Problems that Shallow Leaders Neglect
A problem-free life would destroy us all.
A world without problems has no solutions.
In a rush to solve problems, don’t neglect their deeper value and ultimate purpose.
The ultimate purpose of problems is they change us – if we let them. Resistance to change multiplies the pain of problems.
Problems change us by changing the way we think about ourselves, others, and the world.
It’s necessary to change how you think if you hope to give your best self to the world.
Deeper value of problems:
Problems remind us that we’re not the center of the universe. People who think they are the center of the universe are easily offended and entitled.
Entitlement gives birth to ‘why me’ thinking.
Problems remind us of things we might like to forget.
- Dependence. We depend on others.
- Perceived knowledge. We know less than we think. Failure bursts the bubble of perceived knowledge.
- Responsibility. That pit in our stomach when something goes wrong is responsibility.
- Blame. The temptation to blame is an easy escape that prevents growth.
Problems make us hungry.
Hunger is dissatisfaction and dissatisfaction often becomes drive.
Problems wipe steam from the mirror so we see ourselves more clearly.
Insight that comes from struggling through problems is more about character than competence.
Problems show us we weren’t as competent as we thought, but we’re more resilient than we realize.
Maximize the value of problems by engaging in self-reflection.
- How are we changing?
- What are we learning?
- What’s different about us as a result of facing problems?
- How might facing problems make us better leaders? Persons? (Be specific.)
What deeper value in problems do you see?
I often wonder how much organizational paralysis and stagnation can be traced to an aversion to dealing with problems. I have found that tackling problems and solving them gives me confidence to take on bigger and more consequential challenges. Great, thought-provoking post!
Thanks Jim. It seems that tackling problems gives us confidence. It shows us what we’re made of. It also gives us a glimpse of what we could be.
I’m with Jim, solving the problem provides us the confidence to move forward. The challenges are the spice of life for many, nothing like a challenge to start the day. We tend to complicate when we say ” We have never done that”, step up and use your talents to work the Gambit of solutions, they exist we just may not see them up front. Don’t be afriad to get down and dirty to fix the challenges.
Thanks Tim. It’s true that we complicate problems and challenges by bringing in periferal issues. Just jump in and get down and dirty, as you say.
Problems exist in a system of interconnected parts. Solving one problem often creates other problems.
It’s important to understand the context or system in which the problem operates. It’s important to see the big picture and understand all the changes that may be necessary to eliminate the problem.
Thanks Paul. I learned in some LEAN training I took that solving a problem often pushes it down the line to someone else. When we solve a choke point and increase productivity, we create other problems down the line. I think that’s one way to look at what you’re saying.
Interesting topic, I have learned a lot through this article and would like to receive more of articles like this
What if the “problem” is really not a problem? I had a former employee that would complain about the tiniest of things (like a co-worker overwatered a plant and some water leaked out – no damage to anything, just a wet spot), and expect me to “handle” it. I told that person more than once (very tactfully) that we’re all human and I wasn’t going to discipline someone over such a minor issue. Ultimately that employee left because I never did anything about the complaints. I feel like I could have handled it better but am still puzzled as to a better solution. Ideas?
Maybe the question is more who’s problem is it to solve? A wet spot on the floor could create a slipping hazard, depending on where it is. Overwatering could kill the plant, which would be a hassle at least. However, these “problems” likely could be solved by the complaining individual talking to the co-worker and pointing out the issue(s) that the overwatering causes. As you say, it’s not a disciplinary issue, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t get addressed in some way.
First off, there may not have been a better solution. We often beat ourselves up over a decision, even when it was the best one we could have made. Having said that, you should understand where that employee was coming from. Were they trying to make things better but didn’t know what to focus on? Were they trying to get their coworkers in trouble? Did they not have enough experience to understand what was significant in the work place? Had they gotten in trouble at a previous workplace for those sort of problems? Understanding why these issues were so important to that employee might have helped you to address them in a way that kept the employee there.
I was reading Richard Bach’s Illusions last night and landed on one of my favorite quotes from the Messiah’s Handbook in it: “There is no such thing as a problem without a gift for you in its hands. You seek problems because you need their gifts.” So coincidental to see your post for today. Let’s not waste the problems we face.
I would say to the “complainer”….
“Your co-worker took the initiative to water the plant. (Which he /she didn’t have to. It’s not in his/her job description)
I’d like you to take the initiative and clean up the wet spot. It will only take you 30 seconds. Thanks.
I’ll let the employee know not to overwater the plant in the future.”
– Changing the pot Or Placing it somewhere else Or placing the pot over a Pot Plate
– Ensuring that the pot is not over-watered, make the employee responsible to understand how much, how often and when to water the plant based on the specie of the plant and also ensuring to keep the floor clean whether or not over-watering happens
– Asking the solution to the employee complaining about the issue and logically addressing it
– Employee pleasing can not retain employees but doing our best to ensure that the working conditions are optimal and due justice is given to the potential of the employees hence their self-growth resulting in the organisational growth…..