I don’t usually directly plug a blog, but Seth Godin’s Blog is a pithy record of his thoughts, mostly applicable to business, but broadly applicable to life. Godin looks at things from different angles and, though some of his solutions may boil down to re-wordings of the familiar, his explanation and method is engaging.
For instance, his latest entry is about “getting unstuck” from a problem. As he explains, while there are all sorts of problems, the ones with an obvious solution get solved and so the only ones we ever really have left are “the perfect ones.” These are the ones that get us stuck. Why? Because they’re perfect problems:
Perfect because they have constraints, unbendable constraints, constraints that keep us trapped. I hate my job, I need this job, there’s no way to quit, to get a promotion or to get a new boss, no way to move, my family is in town, etc.
We’re human, that’s what we do–we erect boundaries, constraints we can’t ease, and we get trapped.
Or perhaps it’s your product or service or brand. Our factory is only organized to make X, but the market doesn’t want X as much, or there is regulation, or a new competitor is now offering X at half the price and the board won’t do anything, etc.
There’s no way to solve the perfect problem because every solution involves breaking an unbreakable constraint.
And there’s your solution.
The way to solve the perfect problem is to make it imperfect. Don’t just bend one of the constraints, eliminate it. Shut down the factory. Walk away from the job. Change your product completely. Ignore the board.
If the only alternative is slow and painful failure, the way to get unstuck is to blow up a constraint, deal with the pain and then run forward. Fast.
Basically, short term pain for long term gain. Government could learn from this, too.