Why Fixing a Problem Isn’t Always the Best Solution

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“Let it go!”

That was the sole message of an acclaimed keynote speech that my colleague Joe Calloway delivered at the annual convention of the National Speakers Association some years ago.

Let it go.

In his speech, Joe encouraged us to look at all the manifold things we had on our respective plates and think about how we could simplify, how we could focus. In short, what could we let go of so that we could really shine at what was left.

About a third of the way into the 15-year run of the comedy TV show that I produced in Seattle, we changed the show host. The following year was a low point for the show—primarily because I simply inserted the new host into a format that had been developed to showcase the original host’s strengths. The new host was talented, but the match wasn’t right.

During the ensuing summer hiatus, I worked very hard, for weeks, trying to fix the elements that weren’t working—to little or no avail. Finally, in a moment of desperation, I said to myself, “If only I didn’t have to fix these things! If only I could just get rid of them!

That was when the penny dropped.

By getting rid of the elements that weren’t working—by letting go—we could move from a one-hour show to a half-hour show, which enabled us to move to a much better time slot…all while focusing on the elements that worked best for both the new host and the show in general. We made those changes, and for the next ten years we were never less than #1 in our time slot.

So why did it take me so long to come to the “let it go” realization? It’s because of one thing—one thing that may be holding you back as well:

I was so stuck in “the way things had been” that I couldn’t see “the way things could be.”

Don’t get so stuck in “the way things have been” that you can’t see “the way things can be.” #leadership #simplify Click To Tweet

In my mind, I couldn’t see the show as anything other than an hour, because it always had been an hour. And because I was so stuck in trying to fix the hour, it never occurred to me (until it finally did) that things could be otherwise.

In other words, I was so focused on fixing what wasn’t working that I never asked myself the question, “Do these things really need to be fixed—or could I just let them go?”

I could have saved weeks of time, struggle, and frustration by simply asking myself that question first.

When facing a challenge, ask “Does this really need to be fixed…or can I just let it go?” #leadership #simplify Click To Tweet

That’s what I’d like you to do. Whatever you’re struggling with, whatever challenges you’re facing, ask yourself this question first:

“Can I simply let this go?”

Ask yourself that question, and then, if necessary, follow up with:

“I’m not sure, but let’s explore it. What would happen if I did let it go?”

Maybe you’ll find, as I did, that sometimes—just sometimes—when you let go of the things that are causing you pain, not only is the pain gone, but what remains might be better than what you had before.


About the Author:

29-time Emmy Award winner and Hall of Fame keynote speaker Bill Stainton, CSP is an expert on Innovation, Creativity, and Breakthrough Thinking. He helps leaders and their teams come up with innovative solutions — on demand — to their most challenging problems.
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