The Fruit of the Problem

"When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had already been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” (John 5:6)

Yesterday we examined the root of the problem--what were the choices we made in the past which led us to our current dilemma? Today, we tackle another idea for problem-solving.

We've all been schooled to pursue the deep roots of a problem--searching for the underlying cause. In reality, it is often the fruits of a problem that spur its continuation. These are the secondary, unspoken gains we receive as a result of the problem's presence.

Think of the teenage boy, terrified of rejection, neglecting his hygiene. Parents search for the root: he's a slob, a slacker, a lazy boy who we'll have to motivate to do everything. He may even believe them, and beat himself up for his lack of inner drive or his difficulty remembering his to-do lists. Parents would be wise to look at the fruit of the problem instead: What are the resulting outcomes of his behavior? He stays younger, safer from rejections, and delays the onslaught of increasing responsibilities of adulthood.

Think also of the employees who constantly complain about the lack of upward mobility in their company. They don't formally ask for more responsibility, dress for the job they really want, or do a serious search for another position, or company, or industry. We could look for the psychological "cause" underneath this behavior, but it's wise to look at the fruit. Never underestimate the cost of actually giving up a complaint, which this person would have to do in order to seriously level up. Those who continually escalate their career confront themselves more, and complain about others less. This "lazy" employee may indeed have some psychological roadblocks underpinning his lack of progress, but he may be unknowingly enjoying the benefits of not trying: less responsibility, more sympathy from others, not having to face his fear of success.

Ask yourself: What are all the results of my current problem, even ones seemingly unrelated. Do I unknowingly want those results? If not me, is there someone who does? What are all the possible results if I solve my problem? What will be missed?

[this is part of a book idea on problem solving...whaddya think? Helpful?]

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