The ABC’s of Problem Solving
These are just my thoughts. I, alone, am responsible for them. In some ways, what I am about to write… I have no right to say. In other ways, I do. I am no economist though I have taught economics. I have no answers, and yet I do. I am not in government, and yet I have responsibility. Let me explain.
First, I invite you to watch this interview with Arlene Dickinson. Now, let me be clear; what I write here is not a commentary on politics or Kevin O’Leary. Anyone who has read my posts of the past may now know that I have no interest in ideologies. Indeed, I have long said that ideologies constrain us while ideas free us.
What I am attracted to is the balance and wisdom of Arlene Dickinson‘s commentary. She is an admitted capitalist and entrepreneur, by her own admission… however she might define that. Her thoughts around economic distress not being the responsibility of any one person or party but the responsibility of us all… is noteworthy. The blame game, in any economic downturn, runs contrary to producing solutions. Learning is productive. Blaming and shaming is not. Being loyal to ideology is not learning. It is ego driven, and does run counter to creative problem solving. I take it that Arlene is saying we must learn and lead together. We are in this together. However we have gotten here, the aim is not blame… but gain. What can we learn, to be better, stronger?
This is not simply true of Alberta. Indeed, I cannot speak to the case of Alberta directly as I do not live there and never have. Still, in my native Newfoundland and Labrador, we are learning similar lessons. Both Provinces have ridden the idea of natural resources being our true resource. Both Provinces, and our Country of Canada, have seemingly bought into the idea that our greatest strength is what is in our ground or waters. Arlene’s point seems to speak to the truth of any nation, or community… or company or campus. Beyond cliché, our strength is who we are; our character. More on that… a little later.
She also speaks to the need for a diversity agenda. Again, this notion that our success is based on oil, gas, minerals, trees, agriculture, water or any natural resource is both understandable and confounding. Indeed, we are blessed with such resources but these same resources are subject to the whims of a world market, and the politics therein. Oil prices dictate our wealth. Commodity prices, too. Or do they? What of nations like Japan, seemingly much less endowed with land and traditional natural resources? And what of this still somewhat unheralded story in Detroit?
Indeed, she also speaks to the need for speed of investment from government. Government does have a role in an economy. That is why we call it government. They govern. Aside from competing ideologies, the responsibility of any government is to preside over the true welfare of a nation. In her comments, she refers to democracy and mandates; concepts driven by responsibility and accountability. Yet, government cannot do it alone. No new government, inheriting the economy governed by another is responsible for any kind of immediate fix. Indeed, politics would have us believe in fault, blame and change of leadership being the answers. The truth is we are all responsible.
Now, I invite you to read this.
While I do not hold to everything manifested in this article and I am certainly of the understanding that you can fit 1,000 economists in a room and get 1,000 nuanced and even dramatically different views… the point that we all got us here is valid. Most of us bought in to the wealth of an oil and gas economy, despite any writing on any wall. Concerns for the “boom town” mentality and the forgotten reality that oil and gas has to be a dying resource were lost in the notion that we were now a “Have” Province. We spent like it too. All of us. The idea that this is now the sole responsibility of the previous government (or the new) is counter productive at the least.
Even more so, Arlene addresses the true resource of any company, campus, community or commonwealth… people. And that is where I do have something to say, in which I may have earned the right to speak. Our work contends that character begets capacity and capacity begets creativity. Character is foundational to any mountain to climb… whether Churchill and Dunkirk or JFK and Ask Not… or MLK and I Have a Dream… or now and our economy.
It begins with character. Our greatest resource is character. Indeed, in these last few posts, we have started exploring same (and the virtues) as the basis for great leadership at school and family, work and community. We have looked at ACCEPTANCE.
We have looked at BEAUTY.
Now, imagine the power of accepting where we are, without blame or shame. Imagine the power of accepting what is… not in some sense of defeat but in understanding our baseline and getting our heads out of any sand that they have been in through these times of natural wealth and riches, however long we have experienced them. Imagine the power of a healthy sense of acceptance that “OK, this is where we are… this is our new starting point.”
Strength starts with acceptance.
Then imagine the virtue of BEAUTY in action; that ability to see potential. That is what Churchill and JFK and MLK saw. It was not “pie in the sky”. They saw it. To manifest it, we must first see it. We must first see and believe in potential. Our greatest and most unlimited potential lies within us; not our ground or water. Indeed, Ralph Waldo Emerson once said…
We are, indeed, blessed with a magnificent country. But, make no mistake about it, any country is ultimately defined by its people. And any people are defined by their practice of character.
So, bear with me on this. Let me suggest that in any problem, any crisis… the answers start with a simple formula of character that I have long and affectionately referred to as the ABC’s of Constructive Problem Solving. Acceptance and Beauty we have addressed; accepting where we are as starting point and seeing the beauty in the opportunities and challenges ahead. But then, we need get to CREATIVITY.
Indeed, acceptance and beauty free us from shame and blame and unleash creativity. Creativity is an unlimited resource and one we are all being called to now. Arlene speaks to the need for innovation. I suggest that it is not our resources or any lack thereof that matter. It is our resourcefulness.
Ralph also said…
I have also long suggested that OLD SCHOOL does not get us out of anything. Old School is nostalgic and believes that “If we could only go back.” We cannot. BOLD SCHOOL is different. Bold School asks how can we both learn from the past and yet create something new? Indeed, how can we move beyond anything by going backwards? While it was long before my time, I am sure that the Marshall Plan or Roosevelt’s New Deal were argued as insane. No doubt, they were not perfect… but they were bold; and saw the times through great change.
I am not suggesting a return to either. That would not be creative.
I am suggesting that what I am truly hearing in the message of Arlene in this interview… it is time to come and work and create together. This is not a call for kumbaya. This is a call to roll up our sleeves, leave the excessive egos at the door, and build a wisdom that can prove to us that our greatest resource is within. It is our character… and, in turn, our capacity and creativity.
“Innovative in solving problems.”
That is the message and power of creativity. It is a virtue; a strength of character. It is unlimited but for our belief in it. It begins with accepting where we are, free of blame and hoisted by learning… then building on it by seeing the beauty of potential (and this country has unlimited potential, materially and spiritually). I realize that some may see this as Utopian or naive. Clearly, I do not. I do not have the answers for this time. What I do know is that economics is driven by psychology. If we think we are doomed, we will spend less and live in lack and manifest our prophesy. If we think we can climb our way out, we will act accordingly and we will succeed, over time. Time has tested and proven this reality. It is our belief and our willingness to put the work in to create something special that defines us.
Vince Lombardi once said… “Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.”
Indeed, in deed. In the next post, we will explore creativity and its power when we face circumstance, together. For now, I simply thought it time to say… come together, right now. I thank Arlene Dickinson for the inspiration this morning.
Let’s work together. Then watch the creativity and strength arise.
Peace, passion and prosperity…
Barry Lewis Green, aka The Unity Guy™
Wherever you are in this wide, wide world… the message remains true and clear. Together, our character is stronger. Together, our capacity is greater. Together, we can create with excellence.
Breaking new ground on the turning away