Guess, the title says it all, never before in our lives (not that it was not important earlier) has it been important than now, to learn the vital art and science of “defining the problem well”! Unless we don’t define the problem well, we will have it visiting us again and again- disguised as something else, even as it remains the same fundamentally! Through this piece we take a quick look at understanding what does it take to define the problem and how that helps us all to live with one less headache to manage! So let’s roll!
A few months back, I had written , why “The Virus is not the problem”, and I am glad I did it, because as days and weeks have passed, this is what has been really true, sure enough no one is denying that the virus is fatal and can kill, but what needs to be foretold and given due emphasis, is the fact that it is not merely the virus by itself which is fatal or has the potency to kill, rather it is the contextual settings around it which alter its fatality and potency- The virus can harm, only if you allow it to harm by being reckless, unhygienic and inconsiderate for the health and safety of yourself and the people around you! Had the fact remained that it was only about the virus- the number of lock downs (partial and total) that the world has seen would have by now completely ended the whole pandemic- but that is not whats happening! The virus has opened up the scientific community to an extent where they seem to be more at logger heads rather than collaborating to find a solution, Immunologists, Virologists and the Physicians all have a story to tell and each one of them is right- the problem is that each one of them is right to the limited extent of their knowledge about their subject and experience and frankly the virus gives a damn to that bit! Allow me to quickly explain!
You see, the virus will be able to infect you, only if the health conditions of your body allow it to do so- which is an area that you alone control! Whether you have been healthy or reckless, it has always been your choice and you have now the only option to follow the guidelines that suit you, based on what you have ended up doing to your health, even before the virus made its appearance! So at one extreme end, if you have had a disciplined life and respected your health alongside your job sans all the non-productive garbage that you normally would end up doing as part of the so-called lifestyle (which in itself is a dis-ease), you would have nothing to worry or at the most, have a limited challenge to face a virus- this or any other, for that matter! On the other hand if you have been reckless and on a never ending party all through your life, high on everything that you are not supposed to be on, well in that spaces, you are the ideal candidate that this virus would like to see you wrapped up in a body bag!
So this way, it is not only about the virus- the story starts much before the virus comes to the scene and that is the only truth with every problem that we face ever! We set ourselves up for problems and challenges even before they arrive by doing or undoing what we do and what we do/ undo further determines whether we will prevail or succumb to the problems as and when they make their gracious appearance!
Let’s leave the virus alone for now and let’s focus on our world of work; right now many companies are in a frenzy to sack people- sacking of the very people- whom they would have hired paying competitive and at time more than competitive wages and incentives- just with one intent- to have the best so that the clients know- that you have the best and the finest and thereby attract business and revenue to your stable! Fair enough, then why sack now? I mean have you ever heard about a Captain of a ship who asks passengers to jump into the ocean or change ships or throws passengers with lifeboats in the middle of ocean because there is a fuel problem and he must reduce the tonnage of the ship?! Or have you heard about the pilot who decided to drop off half the passengers mid-route because he had a change of mind?! Well, you may say, what can the businesses do, if they don’t have the money- well, so see the problem is not you, it is the money! and what makes you responsible for everyone else’s salary? I mean, had you been able to deliver what you required to for a calendar year and justified your costs, then the organisation would have been duty bound to hold on to you- no matter what! No one throws off a Ship Navigator or Flight Engineer off the ship or plane no matter how heavy it is! So this is where it finally comes back to! The real problems start when organisations end up paying whatever they can afford or are asked for (without verifying adequately)- hoping that the returns will come back to them as told by the hotshots, as they speak for themselves, negotiate and argue at the interview; but as that crucial delivery begins to falter and eventually fail, it ends up becoming a loss for the organisation in the normal times and during these crazy times, like we live in now, it is the next closest thing to a complete financial meltdown! Next, it starts a whole new finger pointing game from the HR team to the Business teams and back to HR in a never ending loop asking only one question, “Why the heck did we hire this person!” and more importantly “Who hired this person!”
The whole point of taking these two dissimilar problems was to drive home a point that no matter what the problem is, unless you are able to define it well and set it up correctly contextually, there will be no solution that comes your way and you will end up being visited by the same variants of the problem from time to time! A disciplined and healthy lifestyle even through normal times is a checkmate for any infection/pandemic, likewise prudent and wise decisions while picking up assignments and offering assignments saves a lot of unwanted melodrama to both the employer and the employee as well, because even if one of the entities goes on to promise what they can’t provide – failure will be certain!
So if you, want to keep that drama quotient a little quieter in your life, begin by defining your problem, define it well and see where the buck stops! Check if you have control; lesser the control you have in managing or to prevail over a problem, the more likely you may fail! More control = Less failure. Next, engage in what you can manage- promise what you can deliver- whether it is the next salary you want, the next business deal you want to crack or the next target that you want to set up, be practical and realistic- one simple way to set and plan for things is – your objectives must be just enough to give you the moment of “aha”, joy or achievement, but at no time through the process of achievement or post the achievement should you be exposed to burn out- mental or physical- because that will mean that what you have achieved is merely a fluke and asked to do it all over again you will just wither away by the mere thought of it! So, it is vital that your ambitious pursuits, at all times remain confined within the walls of sanity, because the line between eccentric success and madness leading to doom is a very thin one!
Whether its is a problem that you have been facing because of a job loss, or the impact of a health crisis, the real problem is not these events- as they unfold- but how we set ourselves up, long before these events- in terms of our approach and belief systems about ourselves! To solve problems, you may like to start working on yourself from within through a course correction of your belief systems that serve and do away with those that don’t serve anymore- perhaps correct a few, omit a few etc. This is a dynamic and ongoing exercise and perhaps the only approach which will enable and empower you to analyse the development of events around you even before they tend to manifest into complete problems! Always remember, never confuse unfolding events as the problem! The events around indicate how things are going to form, reorganize and morph in the times ahead- learn for those indicators and prepare yourself to thrive in that new evolving order post the chaos and ambiguity! Just as we are unique, so will be our problems and there will never be a one-size fits-all formula- there never is- hence as you keeping walking ahead in your lives, doing what you choose to do- consider, retaining sense around insanity, learn what you require to, laugh off, what you must and ignore all that you can!
I will leave you here with these thoughts for now; go ahead and grab a coffee and ask yourself , “How good have you been in defining your problems and how much more better can you get at that!”
Ciao for now, will be back soon with another piece! Until then stay wise and stay anchored!