Thursday, March 29, 2007

Is Your Problem a Solution?

Are you failing to resolve a problem because the problem also serves as a solution?

Most of us are familiar with solutions that become problems - the infamous cure that is worse than the disease - but we may be less aware of times when the problem is the solution.

Some examples:

The person who micromanages (a problem) in order to prevent mistakes (a solution).

The person who overeats (a problem) in order to avoid romantic entanglements (a solution).

The person who attacks the motives of others (a problem) in order to deflect attention from his own motives (a solution).

The person who makes rash decisions (a problem) in order to hide her analytical weaknesses (a solution).

The person who pesters the staff with worthless assignments (a problem) in order to create the impression that things are getting done (a solution).

The person who repeatedly fumbles promotion interviews (a problem) out of fear that more responsibility will bring impossible challenges (a solution).

If a problem is persistent, it makes sense to consider what is gained by the existence of the problem. Many problems are not unmitigated negatives; they also carry benefits. The benefits may be the real reason why the problem seemingly defies solution.

In the back of the mind, the problem may be a solution.

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