Tag Archive for: Problem Solving

Tiny Obstructions

On Saturday morning, Monic was sat in the car, ready to go.
Time was pressing to get to Groningen, a 2½ hour drive.
Despite several attempts the electronic automated garage doors, would not close.
Somehow – they’d jammed open.
Frustrated, I pressed the electronic remote several times. Nothing.
I moved bicycles and stuff from around the garage door. Nothing.
I removed the plug and reset the system. Nothing.
I tried that three times. Nothing.
I tried physical force. Silly. Nothing.
I called on Monic. She gave me some similar tips. Nothing.
I called the church Facilities Manager. He gave now familiar advice. Nothing.
Finally, he said, are the internal Infra-red readers clean. I cleaned them. Nothing.
The issue was escalating.
We needed to be in Groningen, but we were now late.
“Should I call and cancel?” – I thought.
Overhearing our frustrations, our neighbour Peter Van de Kamp, came to the rescue.
Immediately, he found the problem.
“It’s the branches, those little twigs” he said.
Those tiny twigs were obstructing the external infra-red readers.
I never knew they were even there!
Thank you, Peter (again)! 😊
Regularly he comes to our rescue!
It was a simple solution if you know how.
We made it to Groningen albeit, 10 minutes late.
Very few big problems, start as big problems.
In fact, most problems start small, tiny even.
Tiny, seemingly insignificant things, can create big problems.
Oftentimes, others can come to your rescue…
What tiny insignificant things might be causing problems in your life?

Agile Thinking!

“It’s okay” I said, “I’ll pop down to the car for it….”
Let me explain.
Recently whilst staying overnight in a hotel in Belgium, annoyingly, one of the elasticated ear straps broke free from my face mask. Walking to dinner later proved a little bothersome, with one strap fixed behind my right ear and the other side of my mask being propped into position with my left hand for a good wee while…
After dinner, it was time to resolve the matter!
We were sure that we had another face mask in the car. At that point I suggested that I’d go back to the car and look for it. Monic proceeded to give me some idea where it may be.

Then we hit another problem.

We had only been given one hotel entry card for the room and it was inserted into the light system to keep the power on. Removing the card would mean Monic would be in the dark for a few minutes whilst I walked back to the car to hunt for another face mask.
“Hmm, now what I thought?”
Hunting for a solution, I had a flash of inspiration…. “Aha” I thought, and duly inserted my name tag into the switch.
The lights remained on!
These first 3 months in the mission field have been filled with such moments – regularly!
This little experience, captures in a nutshell our initial period of service.
– A little challenge arises
– We consider solutions
– Something else usually happens to make things even more irksome and challenging
– Then somehow, from somewhere – we adapt, flex our thinking and with cheetah like agility we are able to move forward as the issue unravels itself with a little gentle coaxing.
Daily, each of us may face little challenges, irritations, problems that given time, can become even more difficult to resolve.
What do you need to do to adopt a more agile way of thinking?

Council Together

I am grateful for the many opportunities to council together with friends, colleagues and especially family members this last year.

There have been many challenges to address over the last few months and as I look to the year ahead, I am certain there will be many more.

Meeting together as a family council, we set technologies aside, we listen to one another, we discuss concerns, we make plans, set goals, we support and strengthen one another. Jointly, we search for solutions to the problems of the day. When open and candid conversation is filled with love, patience, kindness and respect for the opinions of each other, the council has always been a success.

In addition, when each member of the family is invited to contribute to the discussion, they can and do feel part of any decision reached. In turn, this leads to positive reinforcement of their own feelings and supports our family to move forward in a unified manner, as we each take ownership of the issue.

Whether it is around the family dinner table, the work canteen table, or the board room table, the principles of sitting in council together are universal.

Why not give it a go today? Focus on an issue and ask – What can we do about it? What are your ideas?


“What is holding me back from success?” asked a coachee. “Many things can” I responded.

I love this story, shared by Thomas S. Monson.

“Ship Captains like to tie up at Portland, Oregon. They know that as their ships travel the seas, a little saltwater shellfish called a barnacle fastens itself to the hull and stays there for the rest of its life, surrounding itself with a rocklike shell. As more and more barnacles attach themselves, they increase the ship’s drag, slow its progress, decrease its efficiency. Periodically, the ship must go into dry dock, where with great effort the barnacles are chiselled or scraped off. It’s a difficult, expensive process that ties up the ship for days. But not if the captain can get his ship to Portland. Barnacles can’t live in fresh water. There, in the sweet, fresh waters of the Willamette or Columbia, the barnacles die and some fall away, while those that remain are easily removed. Thus, the ship returns to its task lightened and renewed.”

Barnacles increase drag, slow progress and decrease efficiency. Building up one on another, eventually they could sink a ship.

What “barnacles” are holding you back from success?  What is slowing you down?

Do you need to head for some fresh waters?

What action needs to be taken to move forward?

The 18th Camel

Many years ago, an old man died and left his camels to his three sons; one-half to the oldest, one-third to the second son, and one-ninth to the youngest. However, there was a problem, he had only 17 camels.

The three sons got into an intense negotiation over who should get how many, because 17 doesn’t divide by two, or by three, or by nine.

In time, tempers became very strained.  In an effort to resolve the situation, they finally agreed to go to a wise old woman in the community. She listened to their problem and after some time says, “Well, I don’t know if I can help you, but if you want, at least you can have my camel.  Then you will have 18 camels and you can divide them among the three of you.”

Accepting her offer the brothers gave half (or 9) of the 18 camels to the eldest son, a third (or 6) of them to the second son and a ninth (or 2) of them to the youngest son. One camel remained. There is one camel left over, so the brothers give it back to the woman.

Many of our challenges and conflicts today are like those 17 camels — they seem impossible to resolve, with no apparent solution in sight.

Sometimes we just need more imaginative ways to overcome our problems. Every problem has a solution! What we need to do is step back from the situation, look at it through a fresh lens, and come up with an 18th camel.

What is your 18th camel?