Wednesday, December 01, 2010


When a problem occurs, how do I respond? Do I ask: "Whose fault is this?" or do I ask "Whose problem is this?"

Those questions lead down very different paths. The first leads to blame, recrimination, and abdication of personal responsibility. The second leads to a solution.

The answer to the first question varies widely. It's occasionally "Mine." Regardless, it's not particularly helpful for finding a solution.

The answer to the second question is always "Mine." If Slugger McHurty is beating me up in a dark alley, the problem is not that he's a maladjusted member of society with a punching addiction, the problem is that I'm getting hurt.

By taking the point of view that every problem is my own (albeit not caused by me), it becomes clear that every solution is going to involve some sort of change on my part. Slugger's not going to change--he's having a great time. Why, this is the most fun he's had since he stole a lollipop from that baby two days ago. Instead, I'm the one who is going to have to do something different. Run, fight, or if nothing else is possible, adopt an optimistic mental attitude and watch for signs of Slugger tiring.

My goal for the next problem I face is to not ask, "Whose fault is this problem and how can they stop causing it?" Instead, I will ask, "What is my problem, and what do I need to change to deal with it?"

1 comment:

AC said...

I'm impressed by your wisdom and insight, this is an excellent philosophy, I think I'll borrow it.