Answers are a Pitfall

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As we grow in our life we are bombarded by the need to find answers, for the ability to answer the questions in our lives. By the age of three we have already learned to ask, “Why?” about everything.  Yet getting answers isn’t always helpful especially when it comes to our relationships and helping those around us. By being there to give someone close to us the answers, we are depriving them of a growth experience and beginning to make them reliant on us. This is a direct detriment to us, as well as them, become more and more reliant on us, we have to spend more and more time being there to answer their questions. We create a dependency in them and an obligation in ourselves that will eventually break down and will never promote the growth of either party.

Let’s look at this a little deeper. If someone in our lives comes to us with a question and expects us to give them the answer, they are abdicating their responsibility for that problem to us. It is now our responsibility to solve the problem for them and if the problem doesn’t get solves, it is on our heads that it will fall. This might be an acceptable situation when there are only a couple people that rely on us for answers, but as the number grows and as we build our teams and companies,  we are turned from looking towards the future and walking that path into the agent of stagnation as we spend all our time putting out other peoples’ fires.

What can we do to avoid this pitfall, to not turn ourselves into a guru on top of the mountain that is trapped on the mountain top? The answer is simple; we need to train ourselves and those close to us to develop their own answers to problems. We need to turn into problem solvers and teach others to become problem solvers rather than just drones that bring us problems. The way to do this is simple, but not easy. We have to get the person coming to us with a problem to think on their own, we need to ask them questions on how they would solve the problem and the why behind their answers. This trains them to think and problem solve on their own and we begin to develop that ability in them. We can offer suggestions and our own thoughts, but we can’t give them an answer to the problem. We have to force them through guidance, to act on their own answers to the problem so that they not only learn to develop their own answers but also learn to implement and trust their answers.

Once we have trained those around us to collaborate on problems and become problem solvers on their own, we create a team that can tackle the really big problems together rather than a crowd that looks to us for the answers to their everyday questions. We have turned the people around us, and ourselves, into leaders instead of followers, developed the ability to learn, grow and strive rather than placing the responsibility for life into someone else’s life.

Today is the day to ask questions instead of giving answers. Force those around you to think and to overcome the problems they face by engaging them is conversation and pulling their thoughts and opinions on the problem out. Help teach them to lead by helping them trust in their own ability instead of just handing out answers like candy.