|Problem Solving vs. Problem Managing
Some problems we can solve. Some problems we can manage. And, part of living our adaptable lives means knowing the difference between the two.
Late last fall, I fell down at the AYE conference and bonked myself on the head. I didn’t get a concussion that time, but my left knee swelled up and hurt so much I thought, “Uh oh, this is it for my poor left knee.” I was right. The lubricant I’d been using to manage the arthritis in my left knee no longer worked. It was time to replace my knee.
This is a solvable problem, even for a dizzy broad. I interviewed orthopedists, and set a date for surgery. I had the surgery this past June, and having done the initial physical therapy, am thrilled with the result. I cannot remember feeling this great about my knee. As a side effect, I am more stable with my vertigo, at least when I stand still, because I have no lateral movement. One problem solved!
On the other hand, my vertigo is not a solvable problem. I can manage my vertigo with medication—the meds mask the symptoms much of the time, but not all of the time. But there is no prosthesis, no cure for my vertigo.
We all encounter problems like these. Some problems we can solve, such as my knee with the application of surgery and rehab, or time and money. Some problems we cannot solve—we manage or we cope with them. The key is to know which kind of problem you are dealing with, so you can take a reasonable approach for devising a solution for solving or managing the problem.
One thing you can do is try the Rule of Three for problem solving. Can you consider three reasonable alternatives? If you can consider three or more reasonable alternatives, it’s a solvable problem. But, if the alternatives are not reasonable, maybe the problem is something you have to manage for a while, until science or physics, or the phase of the moon catches up with you.
In my case, my three vertigo “solving” alternatives all involve destroying parts of my inner ear, something I am reluctant to do. What if future prostheses require these parts and I don’t have them? By the way, when I say destroy, I mean destroy, as in remove or break apart. And, I don’t believe that the solution won’t cause more or other damage. So, instead of selecting a “solution” for my vertigo problem, I choose to manage it.
We all have these intractable problems. Some of them are worse than others. If I was a bald man, I would manage my baldness by wearing hats and caps, just as my father has. I don’t see baldness as a terrible problem. I hope you don’t, either! The potential sunburns–those are problems you can solve.
When you decide to manage a problem, you address it. You don’t ignore it, hoping it will go away. But you know it is not a full permanent resolution. And, that’s okay. It’s as permanent a resolution as you can make for now. That’s managing the problem.
Join Me at AYE, Nov. 4-8, 2012
I’m excited about this year’s Amplifying Your Effectiveness conference, Nov 4-8, in Albuquerque, NM. We had to change the location to accommodate one of our host’s inability to travel. But that’s okay–we know how to adapt!
Check out the full program. My sessions are:
- Has Your Project Outgrown Its Training Wheels?
- Replacing Management Myths
- What’s Your Number One Project?
- Improve Your Social Networking Skills
- Reinventing Yourself
- Congruent Coaching, a full day workshop
I hope you consider joining us at the conference.
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© 2012 Johanna Rothman