Solving The Right Problems

Life is challenging and we often see the problems around us as difficult or insurmountable. Some of them are. Some others though are not so formidable

Some are not problems at all. Possibly they fall under Harvey MacKay’s Lesson 62.

“If you can solve a problem by writing a cheque, you don’t have a problem, you have an expense.”

In this situation, the problem is not what you think it is. It is that you don’t want to give up the money to resolve it. That is an entirely different problem and should not be confused with what underlies.

Some are not a single problem but a basket of them all tangled in the bottom of the basket. These are very difficult to solve because the solution to one part of the bundle may make solving some other part impossible. Worse, it is harder to understand what is really happening. Be patient with these and learn to use proto-solutions. Experimental decisions. Problems like climate change fit here. Ecology, rights, economics, international law, and many more complex parts come into play. The problem is not globally solvable in the beginning. It just becomes a political tool.

Better to try some things. Solar and wind are such things. Generation 4 nuclear should be on the table for discussion. Patience is required. The answer will be a complicated collection of initiatives and it will not solve every part of the problem. Learn about optimizing instead of solving.

Some are not your problems at all. Many people are helpers and get caught up in the problems of others. Objectively, if they did not know of the person, no problem would exist but because they so know them, they assume a burden of solution.  That is of limited acceptability for family and friends, but not for casual acquaintances. Everyone has problems and you do not have infinite ability or resources to solve their problems. You create real problems for your self by trying to solve things that aren’t yours. A useful thought. “Not my monkey. Not my circus.”

Some are situational. The solution to these is to avoid the situation, or possibly learn to deal with it. Many work related problems arise here. When you can avoid, keep this image in your mind.

Some are unsolvable. Understand the Serenity Prayer. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”” Understand what builds your serenity and work towards having more of it.

The key of course is serenity. Solving problems may not actually address that. It’s part of wisdom to know what solutions improve your serenity and which do not. Investor, and Warren Buffett partner, Charlie Munger puts it this way.

“We have three baskets for investing: yes, no and too tough to understand. We just throw some decisions into the ‘too hard’ file and go onto the others.”

You have limited resources. Time, attention and money are your tools. Spend them to your best advantage. You cannot be strong for yourself or for others if you weaken yourself solving the wrong problems.


I help people have more income and larger, more liquid estates.

Call or email don@moneyfyi.com or in Canada 705-927-4770

One Comment on “Solving The Right Problems

  1. Excellent! Not the first time I’ve heard you express this idea. Along the same line, I enjoyed your Jan 16/21 article “Who’s Responsible”. Thanks Don. Jaymes

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