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Solve Small Problems

All right. The strategy for today, solve small problems. Now, over the years, society has just become accustomed to accepting our small little problems. And we don’t even call them problems anymore, it’s become so normal, they’re not even problems. Whether it’s your desk is dirty or unorganized, that’s a problem but now we just classify it as, oh well, he’s just messy. So in today, the main thing that we’re trying to get across is how to spot these problems early. The faster you can spot a problem… And I mean, it takes training to be able to do this, it’s not something you can do overnight. But the faster you can spot a problem, a small problem, the faster you can avoid it turning into something larger.

Imagine getting a splinter from wood or even metal, you can get a splinter from metal as well. When you get that splinter in you, if you don’t solve that problem fast, then what can happen is it starts to fester, and before you know it, then it can get infected. Now, if you still don’t solve that problem, then it can get even worse and then eventually they have to cut that whole little finger off or whatever. Now that’s a drastic example, but I hope you understand the point. The smallest little problem, a little itty-bitty shard of wood or metal that went into your hand and that you just ignored, and you’re like, “Oh, well it’s normal. It’s normal. I get it all the time. It’s normal. It’ll go away.” Well, that one time that it doesn’t go away, it turns into a huge problem. We’re trying to learn how to spot those small problems before they turn into having to get your hand cut off.

Recall a major mistake that you’ve made some point in your life. Now think about it for a second. It’s going to take a minute to think. When you’re thinking, don’t just think of the problem, but think of playing the tape out. Like where did the problem start, and then how did it get to where it’s at? If it’s being overweight, you didn’t just have that problem yesterday, so where did it start? Because usually it’s a trigger that started it. Or being disorganized, or a problem in a relationship with somebody else, a significant other, a mom, a child, a teacher, whatever. You don’t know until you think. You don’t know until you know. So we’re at the beginning of the problem, at least as far as you can remember the start of the problem. Then see if you can start thinking of things, interactions that happened in your life that were small signs of telling you that this was a bad idea. Or this is going to have a result that you do not want if you continue down this path.

Did you ignore the problem? Did you correct the problem? Did you brainstorm or try something different and it didn’t work, or did you just be like, “Whatever, I’m going to wing it, see what happens.” Now, once you’ve thought about that. Remember we’re just practicing because it’s a new process. However when you do this, when you’re practicing, you’re also giving yourself the ability to analyze faster. The more you practice, the better you get, just like shooting basketball or playing tennis, learning a new language. If you do not practice, you will not learn it. But if you practice, you will get fast at it. In fact, you’ll learn it and you get faster and more efficient.

So now, identify one mistake that you made today, without becoming angry at yourself. Because again, like I said, we’re just analyzing the situation. We’re not criticizing ourselves. Is this a problem that you do every day? Or is this an anomaly? Is it misplacing your keys? when I was stocking my Amazon bookstore it was a common theme between me and my neighbors that Erik would lose his keys for weeks at a time. That’s a mistake. I didn’t mean to lose them. Well, once you think about that problem, it’s like, “You know what? I do that quite often.” And then start thinking about it, and break it down, when are the times that you tend to lose them? Is it when you have groceries? Think about what you were doing before you lost them. We noticed most of the time I would lose my  at night when I entered the house through the back door. 

If it’s a consistent problem that you’re having, find the consistent trait. What is it that I keep doing? When is it? Is it when I’m on the telephone? I’m walking in the house, I’m on the telephone, or is it when I have groceries? Or when I have the kids? Or whatever, find the one constant. You’ll find that the losing of the keys is just the end result. The problem is before the losing of the keys. Now, that’s kind of a basic example, but I hope that you follow along with what I’m talking about. The one constant every time I lost my keys; I was inebriated walking in the back door. I would set them down and not remember when I woke up in the morning where I put them,  obviously the night before when I was inebriated I put them in a very safe and obvious place, but when I was sober that place was no longer obvious. 

What we’re trying to do is raise awareness to mistakes. The mistakes we’re making might have a deeper root of cause and reaction. Just like with the keys the end reaction is losing the keys. Something might have caused you to lose the keys on a consistent basis for me it was my constant struggle with alcohol. So there might be something that you’re doing in a relationship that you’re not even noticing, that is causing a problem, you might swear up and down you’re not even doing it.

It could be as simple as every time that your significant other, or your coworker, or your boss, or your employee, or your son, or your daughter, or your mom, or your dad, or your whatever, every time they open their mouth and they’re trying to explain something, you automatically be like, “Oh yes, I get it.” In your mind, you could be like, “Well, I’m trying to show them that I feel them. That I’m trying to be empathetic and I’m trying to be with them.” But in other people’s eyes, you could be overbearing. Like they’re trying to express something to you, but you won’t allow them. You see what I’m saying?

So it’s something as small as that, can have a huge effect on a relationship. But if you don’t learn how to break down problems and spot problems when they’re small, opposed to when they’re big. Because what happens over five years of you consistently doing this and you’re thinking that you’re being extremely supportive, but in all actuality, you’re being very unsupportive on the way that this person receives support. And over the years, you guys start growing resentments towards each other because you’re like, “Man, I’m trying to be so supportive.” And she’s like, “Man, he’s just not supporting me the way that I need. He’s just always interrupting me. I’m trying to get it all out and he just won’t let me.” Something as simple as that can be avoided by focusing and being able to spot small problems. Find the small problems in each relationship and become self-aware of yourself. A small problem that you both think is a normal relationship problem could be the cause of multiple other less obvious reactions .

Now let’s talk about when failing is not an option, like The airplane director people. Failure for them is not an option. Dr. Carl Wyke studied HROs, high reliability organizations. what he’s saying is their services are so vital and precise, they’re all forced to find ways not to fail. A common characteristic in all of this is they distinguish themselves by being able to detect incredibly weak warning signs and taking strong decisive action in the beginning. When they hear any bit of stress in a pilot’s voice, they’re trained for that, they’re trained to hear it. They’ve trained their ears to hear things that the normal person will not hear. When they go over their checklist, they have a hundred different things they have to check off every single time before they can even move on to step two. They’re checking things three, four times to make sure that it works. If something even looks like it’s off, they stop, and redo it. Like the assembly line when building a car, it’s the same thing. They’re doing their best not to fail. Trained not to assume the system works perfectly on its own, instead they look for the slightest signal that things are going awry.

On the boat when the fighter jets fly in and if the water’s moving, if the boats come in a little bit too hard, they’re looking for if there’s any debris on the deck, anything that could cause a problem, they’re looking for it. Most of us, me, included, in our minds, we’re like, “Oh, everything’s fine. Don’t worry about it. Everything’s great, it’s going to be okay.” Well, these people are trained to think, “It’s not okay. It’s not going to be okay. Let me find a reason that it’s not okay. Let me make sure and double-check that I’m going to be fine.”

Now, if we take that same approach I’m not saying we’re all going to be that disciplined, that’s a little bit extreme, but if we were to take a little bit of their training and their perspective on life, the way that they perceive things and we add that into our own life, how much more we’d focus on our finances, right? If we weren’t allowed to fail, how much we would focus on our love life. If this marriage is not allowed to fail, if this relationship isn’t allowed to fail, if you didn’t have an option for it not to work, then you would focus on it and you’d make it work. You’d figure a way to make it work. And that’s why solving small problems early, or training your brain to detect things that are not working, early.

A quote by Tao Te Ching. “Confront the difficult while it’s easy. Accomplish the great task by a series of small acts.”