Every time I get to talking politics, it ends the same way. Not in irreconcilable differences, but rather in agreement: “We just can’t solve it.” or something to that effect. Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Apathetic – it’s always the same. Shit is fucked up; the people left in charge are incompetent or powerless to change the system (which is incompetent), and it can’t be solved / we can’t solve it. Then I typically shrug, and move on to something I can do something about.
Somewhere around mid-2009 (I think) I was meeting with an independent business consultant, vetting his credentials, approach, personality, and general compatibility with the company I worked for. If he passed, I would walk him into our owners’ office at a time when the company really needed some help. He laid out an analogy for me that I have applied to any number of wide-ranging topics since. “Think of your business (or anything) as a bucket full of holes. You cannot patch all the holes. Identify the biggest hole and patch that. Rinse & repeat.” Pretty simple, eh? And powerful.
Just this past week, talking politics with a close friend whom I see annually at best, I had an epiphany (or so I thought). It went like this: “At a global scale, you simply cannot solve the problem (any problem – pick one). Rather, apply your efforts to making quantifiable, substantive, positive change.” This breaks the above-mentioned impasse. I found the realization revolutionary to my thinking. I didn’t have to stop every political train of thought at a hopeless dead end. A new challenge had presented itself – what can you do to have an positive effect? Thrilling.
It took me about a week to realize that “epiphany” was actually just a re-application of one of my favorite problem-solving techniques – the holey bucket.
Welcome to the club. ❤️
The crazy part…? This post is from 2014. And I thought shit was crazy then? Yikes.