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Seth Godin shares a fresh perspective on Problems and Situations.

Working with problems

They’re everywhere we look. Here are a few thoughts on the ones that won’t go away:

First, is it a problem or a situation? Problems, by definition, have solutions. You might not like the cost of the solution, the trade-offs it leads to, or the time and effort it takes, but problems have solutions.

On the other hand, situations don’t. Situations are simply things we need to live with.

Once we realize that a problem we have isn’t a problem at all, but actually a situation, it’s easier to do our best to move on and thrive. Focusing on a situation is usually a source of stress, not a way forward.

Second, has anyone else ever solved a problem like this one in a useful way? If not, it might be a situation. See question one.

Third, if the problem has been around for a while, it might not be an easy problem. Those tend to get solved right away. It’s probably a problem that involves more effort or trade-offs than you were hoping for. Resetting our expectations for what it might take to solve gives us the chance to recalibrate it as a situation we’re willing to live with, simply because the cost of the solution is too high.

And finally, some problems get better if we’re willing to talk about them. Some situations, on the other hand, simply get worse when we focus our energy and community on them.

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