As parents, we’re always trying to find a way to transmit a sense of our personal philosophy to our children. I found one in Hurricane Katrina. This is how I state it. “In Hurricane Katrina, a lot of people were trapped in a horrible situation that was largely man-made. When you’re in a situation like that, there are usually two types of people. People who blame the levees, the situation and the government and people who go looking for a boat. Always try to stick with the guy who’s looking for the boat.”
In other words, solve the problem first, then bemoan the cause later – if at all. I think that we have become so caught up in “accountability” in this country that we have forgotten how to actually solve problems. We’re so busy finding people to blame and bemoaning the errors that are made on the way to solving a problem that we get caught up in a blame/fail cycle and fail to push through to the end.
As an attorney I once worked for said, “I don’t care how many mistakes were made along the way. If we close the deal successfully, it’s a success.” I’ve kind of taken that as a personal philosophy for life. I try very hard not to get bogged down in the little mistakes that happen along the way to a solution. Very few processes in life happen without errors. I will grant that it is very useful to examine what happened during a process afterwards to see where it can be done better in the future. But the truth is, most everything in life is occurs on a case by case basis. No two problems are exactly the same and no two solutions to that problem will ever be the same.
So, this I believe. It is more important to push through to a solution than to find someone to blame for a problem. If we can get to the solution, we should congratulate everyone who got there and consider it a success. It is always better to look for a solution than a scapegoat. That is the philosophy I want to pass on to my children. Be a problem solver. Keep your eyes on the end result. Don’t get bogged down in the mistakes that happened along the way. Mistakes will always happen. Forego the temptation to harp on the errors of others. Give the people who make the mistakes a break. Get to your goal honestly and with integrity, but get there. And, look for the guy with the boat – he has already absorbed that lesson.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.