The Problem and the Problem

A couple of weeks ago I got the chance to go fishing with my father and brother-in-law. We do that about once a year, and it's always a time I look forward to. Joe and Michael are guys I respect immensely for a lot of reasons, one of which is their business acuity. They've both run successful businesses and have an ability to think critically about complex business issues that I don't have. I don't have the experience or wisdom they do so one of my goals whenever we're together is to get them talking and try to remember as much as I can.

Last week Joe was telling some stories about hard times he had early in the banking industry. He had a staff member that was under-performing but who was trying as hard as she could. He didn't want to fire her because she was improving but he couldn't keep her around because she was under-performing and killing the bank. Then one day a business professor made this statement:

"The problem is not the problem. The problem is your inability or unwillingness to do something about the problem."

The big problem wasn't the lady, it was Joe. He was unable to help her get better at the pace she needed to improve in order to help the bank, so he had to let her go. But he bore the brunt of the responsibility.

A lot of times when we face problems with others that we can't put our finger on, it may be because we've failed to glance in the mirror.