September 20, 2017
“Small deeds done are better than great deeds planned.” (Peter Marshall)
That little quote from a recent post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog captures the essence of a lot of the problems that we are seeing in politics and elsewhere these days. There is a tendency to spend time thinking or talking about or planning to take on the big problem all at once, instead of just taking actions to resolves little pieces of the problem one at a time. The President spends a lot of time talking about getting a deal done on this or that, while getting nothing done; and, the dysfunctional Congress seems just as happy to do nothing, since that fits into their Radical Right vision of anarchy as the ultimate goal of getting all government interference out of people’s lives.
In our own lives, I’ve written here a few times about tackling problems or challenges by breaking it down into small pieces and doing each of them. We tend to try to figure out the solution to the whole, big problem before taking any action. Sometimes there are lots of little preparatory steps that must be taken before we even can get to the main problem and it the thought of having to do all of those things, just to get ready to take on the problem, that stalls people out. Think about painting a room and all of the furniture moving and drip cloth spreading and edge taping and plug and switch cover removing and all of the other things that need to be done just to get ready to open the paint can. Sometimes it can take as much time in the preparation and post work as it does actually doing the project.
How many times have you passed someone begging on the street and that set off a torrent of thinking and planning about how you could solve world hunger, rather than stopping and giving the guy a couple of bucks to get something to eat tonight? Or maybe you’re on a committee within your church or organization that is wrestling with the issue of declining membership. Rather than go out and personally invited someone to the next meeting or service, you spend all of your time researching or thinking about grand plans to improve things – and nothing gets done.
Instead of putting a lot of time and energy into the planning of a grand solution to the big problems in our society or organization, why not resolve to do what you can right now with the things that are right there in front of you. Do something, rather that thinking about doing everything. If enough of the small, immediate things get done the bigger problem may just fade away. Ask yourself, “What can I do right here, right now to help?” Then just do it. It may be a small thing, but that small deed actually done is better than spending your time planning a big deed that never gets off the drawing board.
August 12, 2015
On the Jack’s Winning Words Blog today – “The way we see problems is the problem.” (Stephen Covey) Jack went on to write – Everybody’s got problems …big, small, and tweener. Problems are simply choices that we have to make each day. S.C. says that problem-solving begins with correctly pinpointing the problem. “What’s your problem?” Calmly look for all possible solutions. Prioritize, and then follow through. If “1” doesn’t work, try “2”, etc. And, remember the adage, “Not to decide is to decide.” 😉 Jack
I’ve posted here previously about problem solving; however, Covey’s little quote spurred some additional thinking on the topic. If I was to suggest a slight change to Covey’s quote is would be, “the way we see things as problems is the problem.” There are, of course, real problems in life; but, then there are the things that we see as problems which are either totally imagined or best just left alone or ignored.
Maybe you know someone who is so paranoid that they believe that everyone is out to get them or that everybody’s talking about them behind their backs. Those people are creating problems out of nothing but their imagination. Of course, since they think there is a problem, they expend a great deal of energy trying to solve those problems. They may run around confronting people whom they believe are talking about them or they may spend time denying imagined allegations which they believe are being spread about them; and that’s their real problem.
Others may see things that are best left alone as problems that they should try to do something about. An oversight by someone else becomes a slight against them, in their minds. Not being invited to an event becomes a major problem for them to be investigated and perhaps corrected. These same people may encounter things in life that just occur without rhyme or reason and decide that they will try to correct things. They may spend hours or days researching the
“problem” without ever really accomplishing anything. Eventually they lose interest in the problem and wander off in search of the next windmill with which to tilt.
So, maybe Covey should have started his advice on the resolution of problems by saying that first it is important to take a moment to decide if this is really a problem and then maybe is it really your problem? Trying to “solve” something that is not really a problem is frustrating and taking on problems that aren’t really yours is seldom successful. There are problems that are so large and general in nature that they spawn movements to resolve them, so maybe joining a cause is the best solution for you. You won’t solve the problem by yourself, but you can help.
If the problem really is yours, you can follow Covey’s advice and perhaps read my post on Problem Solving 101. Almost all advice on problem solving follows the same path. Another good piece of advice is to keep problems in some perspective. Almost no problem that you will encounter in life is a life or death situation and most are way less critical than we make them out to be. The world will not end if you do not resolve the problem at hand. Don’t let your problem solving efforts totally consume your life. Step back or step away from them every now and then to catch your breath and to re-evaluate their importance to your life. You may be surprised how many of them just evaporate before your eyes as you are e-examining them. Some of them you may just decide to let be and
stop your efforts to solve them; and that’s OK, too. Some of them you may need to take to God and ask Him to
take them off your shoulders. There is an immense sense of relief when you take your problems to God, because you have now engaged the best problem solver ever. You gotta problem with that?