Individuals producing a product often will encounter barriers and problems. Problems are not something to be avoided; they are really something to be welcomed. If we are going to play a game, which we’re certainly doing in business and life, we’re trying to move from A to B. Obviously, as a game, it’s going to have opposition. What we might call problems are really challenges or opportunities. Why get uptight about it? If you are going to play a game, there is going to be opposition. Can you imagine if you are playing football, somebody tackles you and you say, “Get off of me! What are you doing?”
You can be “reasonable” about your problems too. If you’ve had a difficulty or a problem for quite some time, and it’s not solving, I can promise you that it’s not the problem. You cannot solve the wrong problem. I have never found anybody who didn’t have terrific solutions. It’s not solutions you need; it’s the perception necessary to locate the actual problem so that you are not dealing only with symptoms. In fact, the most sane reaction is to “own the problems” rather than being detached from them as a spectator (someone who is never really involved, so they can’t get close enough to inspect the real reason).
It’s been said that if we all took our problems, put them all on the table, and left the room—and you could come back and choose any set of problems you wanted—which ones do you think you’d choose? Your own! That’s right. You’re used to them. They’re yours.
Some people are in love with their problems! Did you ever have somebody tell you a very complex problem, this complex thing that had absolutely “no solution”? Perhaps you listened and you listened and at the end you said, “Oh, I’ll tell you what you can do about that. That’s simple. Just do this.” What do they say? “Naw, naw. That won’t work. I tried that.” “No, it will work,” you say, “It’ll work. It’s easy. You can’t see it ‘cause you’re in it. I’m telling you…” And if you persist they get uptight and say, “You don’t understand my problem.” (This thing that they’ve worked so hard to put together that had no solution!)
And what if you had no problems at all? None! Everything that you attempted to do, you did. You had no opposition. You’d probably invent problems just to have some kind of game! Show me a person who has a lot of “unsolvable” problems and I’ll show you someone who doesn’t have enough problems. They have such a scarcity of problems that they are making a meal out of the ones that they have for fear that if they lost this problem they wouldn’t have any more.
A person begins to suffer from problems when he does
not have enough of them. There is the old saw (maxim)
that if you want a thing done give it to a busy man to do.
Similarly, if you want a happy associate make sure that
he is a man who can have lots of problems.1
The next time somebody gives you all their problems, don’t give them an easy solution because that takes the game away. What you’ve got to do is when they’ve finished this long dissertation, this complex problem, you say, “That is the worst thing I’ve ever heard. How are you possibly going to handle that?” They’ll probably say, “No, wait a minute. That’s not so difficult. I can handle that.”
Solving problems entails locating the causes. Locating the causes entails observation.
1 Hubbard, “The Reason Why,” Bulletin No. 84, 15 May 1956.