I’ve always been a Ms Fix It. It was (ironically) a problem in the early years of my career. I wanted to fix things that others didn’t necessarily view as problems. I wanted to make things better even if others viewed them as good enough already.
While I’m become a bit wiser in how I approach things over the years, my natural fixer tendencies are still alive and strong. And I’m ok with that, I’d rather be part of the solution than the problem.
What I’d like to talk about today is how often I’m encountering people who just want to talk about the problems and leave the solutions to other folks. Cases in point:
- I had lunch today with a business contact. I’d asked him to share his experiences working in an industry I was unfamiliar with but, instead of sharing his knowledge, he spent our time together picking apart a new venture idea I’ve been brainstorming and telling me all of the problems with it. On the one hand, having someone point out problems helps me brainstorm more solutions BUT never did he present any solutions.
- I provided a photo to a friend for use in some marketing materials. Her graphic designer said my file was unacceptable: too small, pixelated, etc. It was a straight-out-of-the-camera Canon RAW file from a 5D, a file type and size I’ve printed at very large scale without issue. Again the graphic designer posed no solution to our mutual problem. I had to go around her and talk directly with a commercial printer to prove the file was usable. She then convinced the printer it wasn’t. I talked to the printer again, and the printer agreed to a test print. Turns out my photo printed just fine. All’s well that ends well, of course, but there was a lot of unnecessary hassle and drama to get there.
I had a couple more examples lined up but I think these two convey my point. Is anyone else seeing this tendency? Has it become commonplace to complain about problems without posing solutions? What’s up with that?!
Personally, I never want to hear a problem without hearing at least one solution. It may be a bad one but at least it shows you’re trying. Or, if you’ve truly got nothing, then at least show up for a brainstorming session.
At a former job, I worked with an attorney who used to just tell me ‘no’ when I asked if we could do something. Yep, just no. What I wanted to hear, if the answer was in the negative, was, “No, we probably can’t do that, but what about …” How hard is that? It takes just two minutes of brain power.
We have a lot of problems impacting our planet, our country, our cities, and our neighborhoods, impacting humanity at large. We all know this. And the solutions aren’t for others to figure out. We are all capable of posing solutions. In fact, your solution may be better than someone else’s but no one will know unless you show up to the table. So, I ask you: Are you part of the problem or solution?
If we all spent less time complaining about problems and more time brainstorming solutions, imagine what a positive impact we could have.
Do you have a better solution? Share away, friend.