I’m not coming back to give you another project until you show me the one you have in front of you can be done I told the young painter. A few hours later I got a call to come back and check out his work because he was done.
When I returned I found that the fence I wanted painted white was not completed. Instead he had painted the garage.
“You said you had finished the painting!” I stated more than a little aggravated. “I did came his reply, I finished painting the garage. It looked like it needed to get done.”
I didn’t need, nor want my garage painted. I needed the fence to be painted. Why do people solve the wrong problems?
One reason is laziness. Many people don’t like problems, and when they come up against them they often react by taking the first way out they can find.
Another reason however, is that some people have a very dominant agenda or skill set governing their thinking. The old saying, “people who are only good with hammers see every problem as a nail” is relevant here.
In this case, the painter made his own solution for the job of painting. He wanted to conform to the job he wanted to do versus the one I wanted him to do. Rather than inquiring if some other issues might be addressed instead, he decided the garage was needing to be done too. As such, the fence actually never got completed.
How this applies to all of us, wether the painter or the person directing the painter, is looking beyond the first solution that comes to mind. See if there’s a more pressing issue we could be dealing with before we spend the wrong energy on the wrong project.
Here’s some reflection questions we can ask:
- Are you solving the right problem or task?
- Is there a more significant one you could be addressing?
- Are you being lazy and taking the first solution you can find?
- Is there a dominant agenda guiding your judgement? If so, what kinds of solutions does it drive you to?
G.K. Chesterton sums it up perfectly for us today:
It isn’t that they can’t see the solution. It’s that they can’t see the problem.
Most people are smart enough to solve problems effectively. Most people know how. But most people don’t do it right, however. Don’t define the problem and jump to conclusions. Don’t over analyze it either. Don’t be so proud as to try and solve it on your own when multiple people or even just one person’s input can save you a lot of energy for other things.
It’s been a long time since I posted last. I had some things to move through and get in order. But, I am back. Thanks for your patience in between my lapses in posts as well as your loyalty. Hope this week is a great one for you!