05 July 2014

The seeker

I am a solution seeker, always looking for a way to resolve whatever issue is at hand.  Being a semantics person, I prefer not to use the word "problem," as I feel it connotes a negative concept, as though the issue might be only a difference of wrong and right (unless you're talking about the LSAT, in which case, there is one right answer and four wrong ones - yes, I'm still chagrined that I gotta retake).

My slightly-above-average-but-not-quite-good-enough-standardized test-taking skills notwithstanding, I DO like finding a way to achieve an end, the best and most efficient way, if possible, and one that benefits all concerned. This is harder in reality than it sounds in theory, but as I am eminently logical, pragmatic and often emotionally obtuse, I have found that sticking to the facts and analyzing the map from multiple angles works best for me, whether dealing with a disagreement or a tangible mission, and once I have examined all sides, I can determine how to divine the solution. (And by emotionally obtuse, I mean that I often don't take the emotional reaction of people into account when I tell them why their way won't work or isn't a practical solution, which was why being in the Corps was refreshing for me, 'cause niceties weren't always required. I do have tact, though, right, Colonel?)

An anecdote: My father and I were once in a tough conversation while I was in high school, sitting opposite each other and very much at odds over the topic. He told me to describe what I saw behind him. I did and he described what was behind me. He then explained that he had every right to tell me that what I saw wasn't true or that he didn't believe me, because from where he was sitting, he couldn't see it and vice versa. His point was that we would each be right and completely legitimate in defending our viewpoints, but that resolution would be nigh impossible if we chose to only see the issue from our seated perspective. It was a good lesson. In the Corps, there is a saying, "turn the map around" - which means you see your AO from the enemy's perspective and it then helps you determine how they might attack (or defend, as the case might be), so you can better plan your engagement. 

How we each choose to confront issues, analyze them and solve our problems varies and I am not going to posit that my method is better than anyone else's, but I will say that if you let any issue lay unresolved, it doesn't go away - more often than not, it will rot, fester and grow into something much greater than the original issue and, when it gets to that point, finding an amenable resolution becomes a formidable task - not insurmountable, mind you - but certainly, more of a challenge. And that applies to emotional as well as practical (who hasn't at least once put off doing something until it becomes overwhelming?)

 I have tackled being a single mom, being medically retired and having to continue treatment and facing an additional surgery while laying out my path forward with these same skills and so far, it seems to be working, with the occasional missteps and face-falls included. 

That being said, there are days when you just want a hammer to smash things into submission. 

Broken and Unreadable (language a bit well, Marine....)


  1. I really enjoyed this post! Your father's approach was really smart, I've never heard that before. I think it will stick with me (as it obviously did with you). I also liked the "turn the map around". You've given me some things to consider in approaching situations or issues (I'll now try not to call them problems, I do think that naming matters!) and figuring out how to address them to accomplish my goals. Thanks!

    1. MJ - Thank you for the kind words; I am humbled! I would say good luck but we know reaching our goals is more than that. You got it!