Weekly Thought – December 19, 2023
Fred was known for his problem solving skills. He did not gravitate toward difficulties. In fact, he preferred healthy organizations and relationships. However, his exceptional discernment equipped him for analyzing and assessing problem situations with objectivity.
Making a Problem Solving Plan
Any problem can be approached in an objective, logical way. Organizing the facts and building an active plan keeps you from taking a passive posture.
1. Accept the seriousness of the problem
A good friend was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. It is serious. It is not psychosomatic. It cannot be handled through denial, affirmations, or positive thinking. One of my earthier friends said, “you can’t cure diarrhea by ignoring it.” That may be a little raw, but it certainly is memorable. The cure to any major problem starts with acceptance.
2. Externalize the problem
I am indebted to my friend Dr. Kevin Gill for the major contribution to my understanding of illness. When I was covered with penicillin poison I said to him, “Kevin, my body is sick, but I am not.” He smiled and said, “You are the kind who will get well.” Then he told me that executives are the easiest to cure because they have a practice of externalizing their problems, organizing them, and working on them objectively. He said the most difficult one are those who internalize their problems, thinking the problem is caused as punishment, through unfairness, or evidence of guilt.
I was speaking to a large audience and noticed a young man on the front row with a serious disability. Afterwards he came up and said to me, “Mr. Smith, I have a disability, but the disability doesn’t have me.”
(Note: Fred later on in his season of physical deterioration he made a sign saying “I am not disabled, but delightfully dependent.”)
Ben Hayden who pastored the First Presbyterian Church in Chattanooga told me of a member who was diagnosed with leukemia. He told Ben his road to a cure began when he became “a student of my disease.” This meant that simply as a third party he was going to study his disease. He was going to externalize the problem.
3. Use the problem as a learning experience
I have a friend when diagnosed with cancer remarked, “I have a new mentor: cancer. In my mind I think of it as Professor C.” There’s real wisdom in never losing the good in a bad situation. There is seldom, if ever, a bad experience that doesn’t contain some good. And as we learn we have the opportunity and responsibility to share with others what we have been taught.
(Note: when Fred began dialysis he sat down and wrote about his perspective. He called it Dialysis University. It outlined his philosophy of anticipation, expectation, and approach.)
I hope you will find a plan in these quick points about organizing your approach to problems. Accept the problem – don’t duck!
Externalize it – put the problem in the third person and learn from it – find the good in the suffering. The challenge is to take control and not falter – keep moving.
Think carefully about: 1) What am I facing right now? 2) What is coming close to overwhelming me? 3) Am I running from problems or facing them?
Words of Wisdom: “Never lose the good of a bad situation.”
Wisdom from the Word: “Look, you desire integrity in the inner man; you want me to possess wisdom.” (Psalm 51:6 NET Bible)