How to Solve the “It’s Not My Problem” Problem

When the Sanitation Worker decides that a broken bag is “not his problem,” it ultimately becomes a bigger problem than it’s worth.

As I exited my apartment last week, this greeted me.

As I exited my apartment last week, this greeted me.

This problem soon becomes the problem of a landlord or superintendent, the elderly couple who have the garden floor apartment, the exterminator hired to eliminate rodent infestations. As the problem goes unsolved, the people that have encountered it grow increasingly frustrated with humanity.

“Why didn’t the garbage man clean this up?” The elderly couple groans.
“How can that couple live like this?” A passerby asks.

I mean, sure, the bag being broken before it is used is a problem for Hefty’s QA team. Or the problem of the consumer who, instead of recycling (of course, because the environment is not her problem), tosses an old pizza box into her trash can and the bag tear when she tries to remove it from the canister.

As you can see, someone else’s problem never stops growing.
Until it’s solved.

What you can offer to people–creatively, instinctively, beautifully—all comes down to being a fixer. To become someone who will solve other people’s challenges before they get any bigger.

Can you solve a problem that I can’t solve for myself?
Can you fix something that I’m too tired, or busy to fix?
Can you solve a problem that I’m not interested in enough to learn how to resolve?

Problems at their core are: Unresolved impediments.
But they’re not unsolvable.
They’re not impossible.
Nothing is impossible.

Who do you want to be RIGHT NOW?

In your office, in your community, in your household—if you want to be seen as the “go-to guy,” you have to sometimes admit that while it’s not your problem, YOU’RE the solution.

The great ones, the thought leaders, our heroes, did things that no one thought were possible. They sang better or wove tapestries with words that we won’t soon erase from memory. They’re special for a reason.

Most often, it’s because they never saw a problem they couldn’t solve.

You don’t have to know where in the life-cycle of a mistake it took place. Pointing fingers and abandoning your ship isn’t how leaders are made. Be the guy who can’t sleep at night until he’s figured it out.

“HOW do we make the bag stronger?” Asks a curious Hefty QA team member without being prompted.
“Maybe I should bring a small broom and dustpan for the sidewalk after we scoop stuff up.” Said the concerned citizen/Sanitation Worker to his partner.
“I can throw this stuff in the trash for those guys.” Comments a passerby to a friend.

Life is short, and the world’s problems belong to all of us, as brothers, sisters, and artists.

Be great.
Not because anyone is watching.
But because no one remembers the guy who forgot.

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