Solving the problem or just playing around with it?

“Just give it a little grease and it will be like new.”

I can’t believe it actually works, but perhaps it’s precisely because of my tendency to make things complicated that I missed such a simple solution.

A few hours ago, it was just me, a dismantled fan, and a lot of dust bunnies. Yeah, it’s an old fan and no, I never once cleaned it. The fan was screeching when I tried to turn it on, and sometimes it wouldn’t really spin unless you wack it a couple of times so the fan shaft can loosen up.

This isn’t the first time I opened up the fan and let the dust bunnies roam, it probably ain’t the last time either. And to be honest, it’s more of a fun project than something with actual practical value. Well, I guess that makes me a better repairer in the long run but  for now, I just like to tinker.

The fan bearing or bushing was pretty much worn out and there were a bunch of dirty grease and scoring on the fan shaft. Not that it matters anyway, this isn’t some expensive industrial-grade fan. So I cleaned it, put a bit of “lubrication” and reassembled everything. Turn it on and it works!

Until a few days later when the problem came back. In hindsight, I might not have reinstalled everything properly, or so I thought. And as I was pondering whether or not to dismantle it again, my brother came and put a bit of yo-yo grease on the bearing/bushing area, and it works like new.

Well, I probably used the wrong lubrication. WD-40 and a bit of oil probably doesn’t cut it, then again, I don’t have any other lubricants available. But a light yo-yo grease my brother used for his yo-yos? Works like a charm! Especially considering how long his unresponsive yo-yo can sleep.

The moral of the story? Don’t use a hammer to hit a screw? Try the lazy and quick fix first before doing anything drastic? Nah, I just like to dismantle stuff for the fun of it and don’t exactly care about fixing the problem in the first place. Not in this case anyway. My brother was solving the problem while I was just playing around with it.

Will it still matter a year from now?

Every day, something goes wrong or an emergency happens and panic ensue. This is especially true for travelers or people taking risks doing new and exciting things. What happens when there’s a problem? What happens when something goes wrong?

Well, will is still matter a year from now? How about that urgent issue or big problem you had a year ago, still remember that? Does it still matter?

In most cases, the answer is a resounding ‘no’ and the problem either took care of itself or wasn’t that big of a deal in the first place. Perhaps the problem still remains and you don’t even realize you’re used to living with it now.

Time puts things in perspective. Time lets us zoom out and see what’s truly important. Time is perhaps the greatest tool we have for judging significance, it filters out all the unnecessary noise and lets you see what matters. It also proved to you that most of your issues are no big deal.

All those seemingly urgent problems you had before, weren’t they all resolved? So what’s the probability that your current problem is no different? Relax, you got this.

Don’t just look for problems

It’s very tempting, isn’t it? The world is full of problems, everywhere you look, you can find fault of one kind or another. It’s so easy to go look for problems, but what do you do afterward? Complain? What else? Nothing?

It’s not enough to just go look for problems, solve them. Yes, solve them. Is it a pain to do so? It’s not your job? Too hard to solve? Don’t have the time? Not worth the effort? Then why bother pointing out the problems? So that someone else will take the initiative and solve it for you? Really?

I’ve been thinking about this recently, why don’t we solve the problems we find? There’s a lot of legitimate excuses and illegitimate reasons why we ignore the problems. But doing so achieves nothing, yet it seems to be our default response.

The problem is, people complain a lot about various problems, yet they don’t do anything to solve them. And yes, I’m complaining about the problem that ‘people hardly solve any problems’ without trying to solve the problem of ‘people not solving problems’ myself. Wow, that’s a mouthful.

I don’t know how to get people to start solving problems and perhaps the best way to do that is to try and solve the problem myself. So the next time I discover any problems, I will attempt to solve it instead of simply ignoring it.

And if I don’t have the power to solve it, I will at least come up with twenty ideas on how to solve it so that people with the power to solve it can simply solve it without having to wonder how. So tomorrow’s post will be on twenty ways to get people to be more proactive at solving problems, or something like that.

Looming deadlines

You have a task due very shortly. You are heavily pressured to meet the schedule. What would you do? Cut corners and get it done as soon as possible? Or would you ignore the deadline and focus on doing quality work?

It’s a problem faced by a lot of students, employees, managers and pretty much everyone who has to meet a deadline. What would you do?

Perhaps the best answer is to cut out all the excess fat and get straight to the point. Hit the task at its core, solve the heart of the problem. But how do you know what that is?

By seeing the problem and understanding what it’s really about. What are your intentions and why are you doing all this? Find out what others really want, what is the one thing they want from you? Deliver that, do it in a way that aligns with what you want to get out of the task. Everything else is secondary.