Not Every Problem Needs A Solution

Screen Shot 2015-01-19 at 9.54.49 PMThe day started out like every other day. The bus driver went to the garage and started up his bus, just as he had done every day for many years. He drove his bus route, just as he did every day, with no problems or incidents. The bus started and stopped; people got on and got off.

Around midday, however, something out of the ordinary happened: A huge, bulky man got on the bus. He looked to be nearly seven feet tall and was built like a wrestler, with long arms and heavy muscles. He was so massive that his very presence was frightening. This huge man glared at the driver and said simply, “Big John does not need to pay.” And with that, he went to the back of the bus and sat down.”

The driver thought, Who does this guy think he is? Everyone pays! As he kept thinking, he found himself getting upset: The audacity of this man! How dare he come on my bus and speak to me with such disrespect!

The more he thought about it—and he thought about it all day—the more furious he became. But in reality, the driver could do nothing about it. He was a small man, certainly no match for a giant. So he allowed Big John to remain on the bus, but he was far from happy.

The next day the same thing happened: Big John got on again, made a show of refusing to pay, and sat down. And the next day, and the one after that, until a full year had passed.

In that year, the driver had made the transition from short-term rage to long-term stress. He was losing sleep, his appetite was suffering, and he was fighting with everyone at work and with everyone he loved. He knew he was losing it, big time.

So he decided to do something about it. He signed up for bodybuilding courses, karate, judo, wrestling, fencing—you name it, he did it. He enrolled in anything that could build up his strength, his stamina, and his self-confidence.

The next six months were busy but good, and the driver was feeling more confident and strong every day.

One morning, he knew the day had come. And this time, when Big John got on the bus and said, “Big John doesn’t pay,” the driver stood up assertively, glared back, and screamed, “And why not?”

With a surprised look on his face, the passenger shrugged and replied, “Big John has a bus pass.”

Lead From Within: Before you make assumptions, before you pass judgment, before you start working to fix a situation, make sure you know what the problem really is. Because not every problem needs a solution and understanding the problem is always the first step to finding a good solution.

 


 

N A T I O N A L   B E S T S E L L E R
The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness

After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.

buy now

 


Additional Reading you might enjoy:

 

Photo Credit: Getty Images


Lolly Daskal is one of the most sought-after executive leadership coaches in the world. Her extensive cross-cultural expertise spans 14 countries, six languages and hundreds of companies. As founder and CEO of Lead From Within, her proprietary leadership program is engineered to be a catalyst for leaders who want to enhance performance and make a meaningful difference in their companies, their lives, and the world.

Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR, Inc.com, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.

45 Responses to “Not Every Problem Needs A Solution”

  1. Sunil Jogdeo

    20. Jan, 2015

    :-). One of the best articles perhaps. Humor in articles ads value. Enjoyed, thank you.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Cindy Tomcak

    20. Jan, 2015

    Fabulous! Oh so true!

    Reply to this comment
  3. Terri Klass

    20. Jan, 2015

    Loved the story, Lolly and it made me realize how assumptions can really discolor our perspective!

    While it is true not every problem needs a solution, I have found that sometimes when I reframe the problem I gain a new and healthier take on it.

    You are a wonderful storyteller, Lolly! Thank you!

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      21. Jan, 2015

      Our own perceptions sometimes color our reality.

      Watch people’s actions and see what they do and hear what they say.

      Reply to this comment
  4. Joanna

    20. Jan, 2015

    Hahaha! I didnt expect that! Loved the ending and the conclusion!

    Reply to this comment
  5. Mohamed Darod

    20. Jan, 2015

    Well-written, love the smooth and surprise ending of the story, before you judge ask few questions make sure that what you assume is right..Thank you, llooking forward to reading more of your stories and articles…

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      21. Jan, 2015

      Before you judge. Inquire.

      Before you make assumptions. Ask questions.

      Before you draw conclusions. Seek truth.

      Reply to this comment
  6. Don Fifer

    20. Jan, 2015

    A well thought out article and perfect example of the misconceptions every person tends to let ruin their day. Thank you for writing this.

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      21. Jan, 2015

      Misconception leads to misunderstanding which leads to mistakes which leads to a whole lot of wasted time. I appreciate your comment and added wisdom Don. Thank you.

      Reply to this comment
  7. AnupamK

    20. Jan, 2015

    hilarious! entertaining! inspiring!…, the story has a quiet happy ending times two! Big John was always right, but ignorance of it caused the bus driver to become one Big John Jr. himself! bravo

    Reply to this comment
    • lollydaskal

      21. Jan, 2015

      Hilarious and inspiring but true. How many times have we passed judgment without questioning. That is the lesson, that is wisdom, that is clue to making our lives meaningful.

      Reply to this comment
  8. Lorraine Sarich

    21. Jan, 2015

    Great article…never assume get more info. Loved it!

    Reply to this comment
  9. Panteli Tritchew

    21. Jan, 2015

    Love the surprise ending, Lolly, and so true that “understanding the problem is always the first step to finding a good solution.”
    I think we are programmed at an early age, through K-12 into simplistic, binary thinking. Problem/Solution is (unfortunately) a core dyad of our education system.
    Great story, great lesson, and love the humor as well!

    Reply to this comment
  10. Ron Koller

    21. Jan, 2015

    Over the years I’ve learned that even “good judgments” provoke needless and fruitless conflict. I like your reminder about acting in a spirit of inquiry (judgment free). Rather than attack the person’s position, we need to ask them to explain the data (facts) that led them to their position.

    In organizational change work, I’ve listened to the answers enough to understand that not all resistance to change is irrational. The “magic” of inquiry is that it helps you see things in a different way.

    Reply to this comment
  11. Garren Fagaragan

    21. Jan, 2015

    what a great story Lolly.

    I could relate with bus driver, projecting and concocting a story that isn’t even close to the truth.

    Interesting how that happens.

    thanks for the post!

    Reply to this comment
  12. Accumulated

    22. Jan, 2015

    My Gran used to say -God bless her bones – Never make assumptions; Never assume.
    For when you assume you run the risk of making an “ASS” out of “U” & “Me”.
    Had the bus driver been Chinese he would have risked appearing a fool for the duration of asking one question : Poignantly & intelligently illustrated -the nicest example I’ve come across.

    Thank you again, Ms Daskal for providing such an atriculate and picturesque perception into the rather ironic humour in Life – Whenever in the sense of doubt, do not forget that we’ve also also got a sense of humour.

    Reply to this comment
  13. Riaz Ahmad Malik

    22. Jan, 2015

    Crux of article was wonderful and complemented by all the replies it’s more than that.

    Reply to this comment
  14. Cheryl court

    22. Jan, 2015

    As the other comments have noted, this is a great illustration of two things (imho):

    1. The need to correctly identify the problem (which is a reason a lot of projects fail…when they don’t do this correctly)
    2. How stories we tell ourselves about others shape our own behaviour.

    I recently went through a training that involved the “Crucial Conversations” book, which I found pretty much life-changing and I was reminded of it when reading this story (it is directly related to my second point).

    Being good at holding those difficult conversations seems to be a more common problem in our society than I originally thought. (for those that are interested; here is a link to the book: http://www.amazon.com/Crucial-Conversations-Talking-Stakes-Edition/dp/1469266822 and here is the training I mentioned: https://www.vitalsmarts.com/products-solutions/crucial-conversations/)

    Thanks for this great illustration!

    Reply to this comment
  15. Belinda Summers

    22. Jan, 2015

    The twist at the end nailed it. Sometimes you just have to open your eyes or ask questions before getting furious with anything. If you got a valid reason for getting angry then that’s legit but before enrolling to the gym like the driver did, be sure to investigate.

    Reply to this comment
  16. Paty Peterson

    23. Jan, 2015

    Makes you stop and think of assumptions you have made in the past. How easy it is to ask for clarification. We just need to make that a habit in ourselves.

    Lolly, thanks for sharing the story. Made my day!

    Reply to this comment
  17. Veronica

    23. Jan, 2015

    This article was quite timely because we were trying to come up with a reasonable solution to someone’s cry in distress. After removing our emotions, we decided to offer prayer, wisdom, support, and other resources. We found that the person actually wanted someone to listen, care, and respond. They needed guidance from a sincere heart.

    Reply to this comment
  18. JohnPaul

    23. Jan, 2015

    HAHAHA – i saw it coming! And still a lovely story but an incredibly important point. Thank You!

    Reply to this comment
  19. WillemKwatapa

    24. Jan, 2015

    Not Every Problem Needs A Solution…… Nice 1..

    Reply to this comment
  20. Udayan

    24. Jan, 2015

    Very true Lolly, this is something which happens to all of us all the time, wonderfully brought out by you

    Reply to this comment
  21. Anika Davis

    25. Jan, 2015

    This story is very positive and inspirational to start the year of 2015. When we think about problem it grows double. So think that problem is like a bubble it will suddenly disappear .

    Reply to this comment
  22. Sri Varshan

    26. Jan, 2015

    That one was damn good Lolly 🙂 Though it makes you laugh, many of us might have been in the same situation as the driver (not for a year though). I remember a story similar to this one where 4 guys need to find a key to the door and they were given some deadline, 3 guys think about designing the key, complexity of lock, etc. But one guy simply walks to the door and just opens it 🙂 see not every problem needs a solution. We are all easily distracted by other people’s actions and we brood over it all day. A simple shift in thoughts could definitely change things, but it needs practice. Thanks for lightning up my day with this cool post. Have a wonderful day.

    Reply to this comment
  23. Gary Campbell

    27. Jan, 2015

    My entire organization is going to get this one. Great piece!

    Gary

    Reply to this comment
  24. Jay Golden

    30. Jan, 2015

    Great story! Not ever problem has a solution but every story has to have a twist that takes us somewhere interesting, where we can learn something. That lesson can be a solution, if, as you say, the problem is explored well enough!

    Reply to this comment
  25. Amy Falken

    01. Feb, 2015

    Great post, Lolly.I knew that some form of the punch line was coming, but it’s a sweet story and is reminding me to ask that question– is a given situation or circumstance really a “problem” that needs “fixing”. Because, at the end of the day “… There is nothing wrong nothing broken, and nothing to fix…”

    Reply to this comment
  26. Emmanuel Kimbe

    26. Feb, 2015

    I was ashamed of myself in the end, I thought Big John was going to kill the driver!

    Reply to this comment
  27. s.M Junaid

    04. Mar, 2015

    Very nice. jumping on conclusion is our weakness.

    Reply to this comment
  28. osunniyi samuel.o

    24. Sep, 2015

    it ‘s cool. the comments made me read it.. i wonder how can some problems wont need solution but i realize how true it is because some problems truly do not exist; we assume it does.. niece piece

    Reply to this comment
  29. Mohamed Elbasuony

    03. Jan, 2017

    Thanks Lolly,
    You changed my mind 🙂

    Reply to this comment
  30. Samir Roger Makarem

    13. Mar, 2017

    I will surely share this wonderful article in my “Problem Solving and Decision Making” training course that I’m delivering tomorrow in Jubail, KSA 🙂
    Thank you Lolly for this great article 🙂

    Reply to this comment

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Five Blogs – 21 January 2015 | 5blogs January 21, 2015

    […] Not Every Problem Needs A Solution Written by: Lolly Daskal […]

  2. Take Care of the Little Things - Lolly Daskal | Leadership and Personal Development | Lolly Daskal January 27, 2015

    […] Not Every Problem Needs A Solution […]

  3. Take Care of the Little Things And The Big Things Will Take Care Of Itself - Lolly Daskal | Leadership and Personal Development | Lolly Daskal January 27, 2015

    […] Not Every Problem Needs A Solution […]

  4. Take Care of the Little Things And The Big Things Will Take Care Of Itself | Social Nurse WebSocial Nurse Web January 27, 2015

    […] Not Every Problem Needs A Solution […]

  5. Not Every Problem Needs a Solution | Alvin Plexico, PhD February 13, 2015

    […] Not Every Problem Needs a Solution by Lolly Daskal […]

  6. The power of stories to influence | Dennis Sparks on Leading and Learning April 29, 2015

    […] an example provided by Lolly Daskal, the details of which could be tailored to fit many […]

Leave a Reply