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Keep it creative

The difference between a critic and a critical thinker is that the former merely points out flaws in existing conditions while the latter actually advances alternatives.

The role of a critic is essential. Without knowledge of our failings, we can never transform our vulnerabilities into strengths.

But as Isaac Morehouse warned in Criticize by Creating, “If you enjoy venting problems you’ll get better at seeing problems to vent about, but if you don’t discipline yourself you’ll lose sight of solutions.”

Truthfulness, also known as the willingness to “tell it like it is”, is often associated with the courage to be honest about things when they’ve gone wrong.

But this kind of truthfulness can just as easily be a form of cowardice when we use our fault-finding abilities as a way of avoiding the responsibilities and risks that come with creating solutions.

Being truthful involves much more than the ability to detect errors.

Just as it takes guts to criticize, it also takes guts to create.

The next time you feel inclined to “keep it real”, try to remember that solutions and possibilities are as much of a part of reality as anything else.

In other words, keeping it real is simply not possible unless we also keep it creative.

 

Breakdowns without blame

A “breakdown” is any situation in which an expectation is unmet, a plan is thwarted, or a need goes unfulfilled.

When breakdowns occur, it’s exceptionally easy to look around in search of someone to blame.

To be clear, I distinguish analyzing from blaming.

Analyzing is when you seek to determine the cause of a problem with the intent of using that information to help create a solution.

Blaming is when you assign disapproval, scorn, or punishment to a person based on the conclusion that they are at fault for the problem.

In many cases, breakdowns can be analyzed and resolved without making blame a part of the process at all.

In just as many cases, when blaming IS a part of the process, solutions get more elusive and people become less cooperative.

Here’s today’s two cents:

There are many ways to solve a problem and most of them work more effectively when blame is left OUT of the equation.

At least that’s the way I see it.

What about you?

An incident is not an issue

I’m convinced that most of us are not worn out by big issues. It’s just that we tend to squander our resources on the little things until we have nothing left in the tank when we attempt to address the big things.

It’s sorta like the guy who eats out a lot and spends $15-20 on food everyday. It doesn’t seem like a big deal to him in the moment. But when it’s time to pay a $200 bill two weeks later, he might wonder where his money went. In fact, he might not even think about that part at all. He might just blame the $200 bill for his stress and go on assuming that his life would be better if he didn’t have to pay that bill. In reality, his problem is not the bill. It’s money management. Had he more carefully budgeted his resources, he would have had little difficulty in handling the larger sized payments.

Just like we have bills to pay, we all have issues to deal with. 

Create an emotional budget

Two of the greatest assets we have in dealing with issues is time and energy.

Learning how to manage the amount of time we spend “sweating the small stuff”, will help us budget our energy in order to have more patience and creativity available for the big stuff.

Here’s a simple, yet practical, distinction that can reduce the amount of time we spend analyzing everyday problems or arguing over them with others.

An Incident is not an issue.

An “incident” is the occurrence of an unwanted event (ie. someone accidentally steps on your toe while you’re walking down the street).

An “issue” is a recurring problem (ie. the guy who stepped on your toe today is your co-worker and he somehow finds a way to do this to you everyday while you’re walking to your car after work).

If you don’t start a problem, there might not be a problem

When something unwanted happens, we tend to react in frustration by demanding lifestyle changes, long conversations, apologies, explanations, etc.

For example, when someone makes a mistake, it’s common for them to say something like “I need to be more careful.” While this judgement is possibly true, it isn’t necessarily the case.

Everybody makes mistakes. That’s simply a part of being human. Simply, acknowledging this fact is much more stress-free than turning every mishap into a judgement about your entire lifestyle or personality.

Maybe you don’t need to be more careful. Maybe you just forgot, or you were sleepy, or you had too much on your mind. Unless this is something you do 2-3 times a week and it’s starting to hurt your relationships, why not let it be the incident that it is?

Most of the unwanted things that happen on a daily basis are the result of encounters with people we’ll never see again (or at least not for a long time); common errors committed by individuals who normally get it right; simple mistakes that will naturally resolve themselves with time, and a host of factors that we’ll rarely have to address again if we let them slide.

Don’t turn a perfectly forgettable incident into a long drawn out issue. Conserve your energy. Youre gonna need it.

At least that’s the way I see it.

What about you?

T.K. Coleman

If you liked this post, check out:

Sometimes there’s no lesson to learn

If you enjoy my posts, be sure to also check out my weekly celebrity inspiration blog, Gossip Gone Good.

Problems: If you put them down, they might not be there when you come back

You don’t have to stick your head in the sand in order to give your mind a break

When confronted with an unexpected challenge that throws our routine off kilter, it is easy to feel as if that challenge must be treated with urgency and immediately resolved. The prospect of moving forward with one’s day and coming back to it at a more opportune time sometimes feels negligent.

Rather than obsess over a problem by forcing a solution to come to you right here and now, experiment with the option of backing off the issue for a bit and focusing that same energy on reinforcing your connection to a more positive, peaceful state.

This is not a matter of sticking one’s head in the sand or being irresponsible. It’s a pragmatic decision rooted in the understanding that we have greater access to both our logical mind and our creative mind when our thoughts are unclouded by the frustration that stems from mentally and verbally rehearsing difficulties over and over again.

What follows is my two cents on taking a step back from our problems.

Keeping it simple is still a good idea

First, if there’s some simple action you can take to remove the problem, then by all means do so.

If there’s a mosquito on your arm and it’s bugging you (no pun intended), there’s no need for you to go into transcendental meditation to find some enlightened insight about it.

You don’t have to ask “what would Jesus do?” about that one, my friends. Just shoo the fly away!

However, if you’ve spent 30 minutes or more trying to figure it all out and you’re not gaining progress, you just might be pushing yourself further away from a truly satisfying solution.

Don’t be a slave to the tyranny of urgency

When many people get to this point, they allow the urgency of the situation to dominate their minds and they choose to do something extreme in order to achieve closure.

An unhealthy surface level solution that brings temporary relief is often thought to be better than a healthy solution that wont show up until a few hours or days later. This is why most people’s problems are reoccurring.

Rather than take the time to address the root issue, we take the CSI MIAMI approach by attempting to eliminate all of our dramas in an hour or less. This leads to quick fix solutions that help us get through the day, but it leaves us defenseless against future manifestations of the same underlying issue.

How can one take such a patient approach when you have an unresolved problem just staring you in the face?

In my next post, I’ll offer my two cents on why we find it so difficult to let go of our problems long enough to find solutions that do more than numb the pain with quick fixes.

Here’s a hint: It has less to do with the actual problem and more to do with how much you trust yourself.

I hope you’ll join me for Tomorrow’s post.

In the meantime, create a great day 🙂

Cheers,

T.K. Coleman

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