Here’s a funny, and very true poem by Kevin McCaffrey to remind us that 80% of our problem solving energy is devoted to solving problems we created, consciously or unconsciously, in order to feel busy, satisfied, competent or leaderly. That’s surreal, funny, very human — and avoidable! Read the poem, and my three step process to let go of your self-created problem, to find the solution!
by Kevin McCaffrey
The problem is there is no problem and
the problem solvers have nothing to do
so they start creating problems out
of thin air, out of nothing. Then the problem
is not to see that there are big problems
everywhere and it is woe unto
him or her who cannot see or who will
not acknowledge the problems—they become
part of the problem, a big part of it,
their apathy or obstinacy holding
progress back until they are educated
to the fact that, one, there are big problems,
and, two, if you are not part of solving
them then you represent the problem
the problem solvers have been talking about
all along. So you see now how it is:
there is no problem worse than no problem.
“No Problem” by Kevin McCaffrey from Laughing Cult. © Four Winds Press, 2014.
So, what problems are you solving that you have given such importance that is has been blown out of all proportion? (Look where you find the most resistance in your team, the most righteous indignation in yourself!) Think of one, and then follow these three easy steps to let it go…
1. Take a deep breath, and forgive yourself and all the other people who aren’t adequately solving this self-created problem. Why start here? Because this is where our egos get the most stuck. You’ve recognized that you created the problem of needing to triple your income by making something innovative and exciting and perfect this year, thinking it was a necessary challenge, not realizing it would actually become a problem. Now you have to forgive yourself for your ambitious delusion, and then forgive all your employees who didn’t get why it’s so important to you. Easiest way to do this? Let yourself off the hook! Laugh at yourself — and love the passion even as you let go of the delusion.
2. Look around and see all the good stuff. You know, the things that aren’t problems, wherever they are. Let yourself feel grateful. Thank people for what’s working. Pat yourself on the back. Give yourself a reward — a nice meal, an afternoon off, a date with your sweetie. Celebrate that there are places in the world where you can actually say, “no problem!”
3. Now, look around you. What are some of the real problems in your leaderly world? How’s morale? Are there pockets of chaos you’re ignoring? Pockets of stagnant thinking? If you’re a problem solver, it will make you feel better (and worse) to make a list of what you’ve noticed. Choose one real problem and focus your attention on that — solving it will be easier than solving invented problems.
And remember, the leader who laughs, lasts!