Are You the Solution or the Problem?

“The deer have killed the oak tree! The deer have killed the oak tree!”

Forty-year-old Todd – we’ll call him Todd – came running into my office with his second crisis of the day. I expected there would be at least one more.

Todd felt it was his job to bring every problem to my attention so that I could tell him how to solve it. Todd was an idiot. His only value was that he gave me a sparkling example of what it means to be an identifier of problems rather than a creator of solutions.

When you see a problem, should you bring it to the attention of your boss?

Yes, but only if:

1. You feel confident that your boss is not already aware of it.

2. You have a solution in mind and are ready to suggest it.

3. You are prepared to implement your solution if asked.

You lower your value when you point out problems without offering to implement a solution.

You elevate your value when you are willing to solve every problem you face.

If you feel you have sufficient authority to implement your solution without having to get approval, then by all means do so.

If you do not have sufficient authority, then articulate the problem along with your proposed solution in the fewest possible words. The less time and attention you require from your boss, the more highly your boss is going to think of you.  Within a year or two, your boss will begin bringing you problems you didn’t even know about, along with a request that you solve them.

When that day arrives, the only person that can get in your way is a family member of the boss, or some other person to whom the boss owes allegiance.

Yes, nepotism is a real thing. It would be foolish to pretend otherwise.

This brings up another important point:

The key to failure is to hang on to the belief that things have to be “the way they ought to be.” The key to success is to be able to deal with things as they really are.

Learn to deal with things as they are. Quit expecting things to be the way they ought to be. Unless, of course, you’re willing to dedicate your life to being a reformer. It’s a high calling, but a difficult one to monetize.

I was lucky enough to have a mother who taught me these things when I was in my early teens.

Without a high school diploma, she took an entry-level job at 32 years old when she became the breadwinner for our family. I was 11 at the time. Mom retired when she was 54, having been the director of every department of the largest corporation on earth.

She was a problem solver.

When a department was in crisis, the director of that department would be fired and they would put my mother in charge. Within a year, it would become the top-performing department in the company. She would remain at the head of that department until another one was in crisis and another manager was fired.

It didn’t take that company long to see her as a resourceful problem-solver. And it won’t take your company long to see the same in you.

Recognition and wealth pursue the person who solves every problem they find.

Are you willing to become that person?

Poor Todd. Things could have been so much better in his life if he had only met my mom.

Roy H. Williams