If everything is urgent, nothing is urgent.
Sometimes it’s hard to remember that.
It’s so easy to focus on the thing that’s in front of us, to put out the fire in our proximity that is getting a little too warm. We’re hard-wired to handle the most pressing threat NOW. So, we end up performing triage – over and over again.
But if we would just take a step back, the result is usually much better. By zooming out and looking at the big picture, we allow ourselves to think clearly about the true problem, seeing all available solutions.
I was listening to an Elon Musk interview this week in which he discussed the school that he started for his children. The school now has 20 students, all learning together but at their own pace.
What was most interesting to me was the analogy he made regarding the use of tools to solve problems. Most of us look for a solution only when we are faced with an immediate problem. But what about if we invested our thought and energy into potential solutions BEFORE problems presented themselves? Action versus reaction.
After all, no one wins a game of chess in one move.
Elon said, “If you have an engine that you need to take apart, should you teach the child that a screwdriver is a screwdriver and a hammer is a hammer? Should you explain how each of these tools is used today and what they can do?”
He paused for us to consider, and then went on.
“Or, should you say, here is an engine. Now figure out how to take it apart?”
He has a point. We’ve all been conditioned from early childhood, and definitely all through our formidable years in school, to handle life’s challenges in one certain way.
Problem + The Fix = Solution.
How often have each of us been told how to solve a specific dilemma should it arise? We’re taught to think in a formulaic method, on a single plane – checkers instead of chess.
Instead, consider approaching any situation with balance and understanding, creatively developing your own way to solve the problem.
Once you allow yourself to gain a new perspective, you’ll probably notice that some of your previous solutions weren’t solutions at all, but only bought you time or caused other problems down the road.
Even better, look for a solution to a problem that has not yet been identified. Identify patterns. Shine a light into the blind spots in your life.
Failure to do so means you’re condemning yourself to push that same boulder up a hill every single day, with your productivity stalling accordingly.
When everything is urgent, nothing is urgent.
So slow down and get it right.