No Problem

I’m declaring my last month sensitivity to ‘leaversmith,’ aka leadership, officially over. I doubt that I’ll ever again be able to swallow the term leadership without chewing and finding some surprising resistance there. My learning high-centers on the emerging conviction that I just gotta inject my own situational meaning into every invocation of that notorious ‘L’ word, otherwise, it’s clearly meaningless. Over the past month, I’ve encountered hundreds of instances of ‘leadership,’ each one cloaked in a fuzzy reassurance, and meaningless without my more-or-less mindful intervention.

Friends have published books over the last month featuring the ‘L’ word in the title, but most offered helpful follow-up advice in their subtitles. Read carefully! I’m learning to slow down and chew before I swallow, even when—especially when—that meaning was supposed to be pre-conscious. The newspaper overfloweth with unintended vague references to that skill, that otherwise indescribable capability that I just must nudge to understand. I’m reading the newspaper more thoughtfully now, too.

I’m wondering what they mean when they say, “Leadership,” and that’s a huge improvement.

Where to go from here?

I’m declaring May a ‘Problem-free” zone. No problems allowed! I don’t mean by this declaration to suggest that problems do not exist in the world, and heaven forbid that this insistence would inhibit any qualified mathematician from deigning to solve any inconveniencing problem during this lovely month. I’m just saying that I’m choosing not to DO problem this month.

Here’s why: I believe that problems are over-rated. They take up way too much space in the firmament. I suspect that most of the difficulties we encounter don’t actually qualify as problems, but that we’re perhaps over-trained to interpret them as if they were problems. This elevates difficulties to a stature unworthy of them, and unworthy of us. Should we approach a difficulty which doesn’t quite qualify as a problem as if it was (were?) a problem, we self-inflict a tenacious unresolvability upon ourselves. I believe this simple misconception underlies many of our most troubling difficulties. I’m gonna use May as a test bed for testing this notion.

I’m hopeful that my evaluation might shock some people. I’m secretly, though not very clandestinely, hopeful that I’ll shock myself out of simply responding ‘as if’ that difficulty could be a problem, then setting off to somehow solve it.

No morning newspaper comes without a raft of so-called problems imbedded in it. I suspect that many of these so-called problems have been elevated to their status by simple convention. We have the long-acknowledged Middle Eastern ‘Problem,” for instance, which I suspect couldn’t qualify as a problem if it insisted upon wearing warning bells. Also, the well-recognized “Economic Problems,” which seem cheaply, and poorly cast as such. My list could be endless.

As preface, I’ll just say that I believe we suffer from many tangles which have been miscast as problems, and aren’t really problems at all. I will readily agree that they each satisfy the criteria for ‘mystery’ or ‘difficulty’ or ‘son-of-a-freaking-bitch’, but perhaps not as problem. ...

More soon.

©2013 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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