Finding The Better Way

Fault finding is a waste of everyone’s time.

Do you look for the good or the bad? Most of us see the defects easier than the underlying skill or goodness. It is likely a trait that served us well when we were tramping the grasslands looking for food and all the while trying to avoid being food.

It may be less valuable now. Despite that many people seem to find fault as if there was some reward offered for it.

Does finding fault work?

Certainly it does, if you do it to and for yourself. It seldom has much effect on others. They are too busy looking for your faults to pay attention to their own. Most of those people will distract you from theirs by doubling down on yours. That helps no one, other than a possible ego boost for the fault finder.

Self-improvement is not a blind process. It works best when it is focused and faults are not a bad place to start. If nothing else you can count on lots of help. The people, the videos, the books, the podcasts, and the learned gurus. There is no shortage of fault finding and the necessary cure. It is not very motivating though. Fault finding is a disfunctional motivator.

People and businesses should look to build on strengths and ameliorate weakness. The payback is much better.

Is fault finding necessary

Certainly yes. One of my personal rules of life is this. “No one solves a problem before they know they have one.” Fault finding is useful to provide insight.

Recognition always comes first. But, recognition will not be accepted if you merely continue to find fault. Usually people are aware of the defects, perhaps just a little, but they don’t want to be continually reminded. Scottish poet William Cowper points out the flaw in continuous fault finding.

“I believe no man was ever scolded out of his sins.”

Scolds are unwelcome and their advice ignored or perhaps rebelled against. Identification and communication must lead to something else.

Moving towards the positive

In my Dan Gilbert review a week ago, I found a thought summing up the problem.

“My friends tell me that I have a tendency to point out problems without offering solutions, but they never tell me what I should do about it.”

Telling them what to do is as futile as continuing to point out the problem. We never know enough to understand what is the right path for anyone else. People must come to address the problem themselves because only they know the nuance. You can be there for support and help with finding the pieces they need.

Negative is not helpful. Your brain is not wired that way. It does not sub-consciously understand the negative side. As an idea, gaining thin is more powerful than losing weight.

Drug addiction and financial planning

Did you ever think about the problems faced by a drug addict. We easily estimate the cost, the health risks, society’s scorn, and the possibility of a sudden death. Did you think they did not know all those and yet continue as an addict? Did you think they would become clean by being reminded, even if they were shown a way to change? Probably No to the first question and Yes to the second.

If the second one was yes, you are naive. You probably iognored two important parts ot the solution.

  1. They might not want to change yet. They usually think they can stop at will and someday that will happen. So long as that delusion persists there is really nothing you can add or do to make the problem solvable.
  2. Even addicts have a social structure. They are familair with it and it sometimes provides support or at least understanding. The social structure is typically a partner, possibly a family, and usually friends. Recovering addicts will have trouble leaving that safety space. No matter how dysfunctional, it’s like the TV show “Cheers” and its opening theme song.
Making your way in the world today
Takes everything you got
Taking a break from all your worries
It sure would help a lot
Wouldn’t you like to get away?
Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name
And they’re always glad you came
You want to be where you can see
The troubles are all the same
You want to be where everybody knows your name
Similarly, weak financial plans cannot be altered. They must be replaced. Like replacing an addicts social space and showing them the better idea. You know the one. They know about that too.
Buy in is not easy. Any change must include the method, recognition of their unique context, acceptance, and non-judgemental support.
Giving up an addiction is far more difficult than the rest of us realize. Scolding won’t make it happen.

For advisors.

  1. Having a bad portfolio mix or the wrong kind of life insurance is not life threatening. At least not yet. You can identify the issue as a problem or an opportunity, but it does nothing to move things forward. Communicating may make it harder to resolve. Recall that people are more fiercely attached to the decisions they made without thinking about them.
  2. Always look to the future. Look for the best way to move on from here. How it came to be the way it is can only be used to help understand the person. Asking a question like, “Why did you buy that stock?” leads nowhere. Why questions that demand an explanation for behaviour proven to be wrong, are always rejected. Never ask one unless you want to see how the person lies. A softer why usually works, “How did you come to own that stock?” usually gets a helpful answer.
  3. Steven Covey’s 5th Habit of Highly Successful People. Seek to understand before seeking to be understood. When you do that your presentation will be non-judgemental and the errors will go away in the new approach. Assuming it fits the person’s unique context. The thing about listening. You learn little about the other person while talking. Other than the body language cues they use while rejecting you and your idea.
  4. Ask questions to firmly establish their vision and how you fit into it.
  5. Always present solutions in the form, “Given your objectives and priorities, you have these ways to advance. I recommend this one.” Explain the solution including why other possible ways have been excluded.
  6. Do not fear AI unless what you do can be replicated by a collection of programs. AI will take over much of the space, but what human clients want is the involvement, the emotional support, and the wisdom. Eventually non-human adivisors may be the best, but not until robots can fake emotions and sincerity.
  7. Support means continuing contact. Your role is to provide information that improves the person’s knowledge and helps them to understand their context and the possibilities arising from that. Be open to questions and suggestions

Fault finding is the lowest form of planning and advice. People pay almost no attention to your efforts to help. Build on strengths and deny weaknesses the ability to proliferate.

But it has uses if you pcan handle it well.


I help business owners, and professionals understand and manage risk and other financial issues. To help them achieve their goals, I use tax efficiencies and design advantages to acquire more efficient income and larger, more liquid estates.

Please be in touch if I can help you. don@moneyfyi.com 705-927-4770

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