Finding Solutions

Something I Learned Last Night

Razor…Is actually something I’ve known for a while, but it’s good to hear it again from a different perspective.

Often solutions to life’s issues are discovered by utilizing our own experiences to find the answer. The less exposure we have to a wide range of experiences, the narrower the span of possibilities to our needs.

This is applicable on so many levels – whether it is dealing with a car accident, or a rebellious teenager, or even attempting to determine which way to vote on a contentious issue.

Narrowed experiences often produce narrowed solutions. This is not always bad, but it does place limits on our possible results. You know,

If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always gotten.

If no wider range of experiences are sought after, then the narrowed answers you’ve always used will be the only solutions you’ll always have.

Where did I learn this from the first time? I’m not sure. But listening to Rick Steve’s lecture on Israel and Palestine travels last night made me realize we will never have the complete answer to a problem unless we are willing to experience both perspectives.

Some people like to think there are two sides to every story. I teach there are 40 sides to every story – one for every generational year we experience. Shades of this viewpoint, shades of that viewpoint. Somewhere in the middle of everyone’s viewpoint is a solution that can be accepted by everyone concerned. Except by the extremist, perhaps.

The other thing about solutions, the first possible choice is not always the correct choice, nor the second, nor even the last. A solution may require balanced approach of accepting something less than perfect, or a negotiated option that means sacrificing a perfect answer for something less than perfect.

Centuries after the death of William of Ockham in 1347, the term Occam’s Razor showed up in 1852 in a writing of Sir William Hamilton. The original Ockham was an English Franciscan friar and scholastic philosopher and theologian. One of his major thrust was the concept that “…among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected…”. More simply stated we hear it as:

All things being equal, the one with the simplest solution is probably the best.

Roving through potential solutions often means we need to be exposed to many different possible answers, and those possibilities often come from a wide ranging viewpoint. And that often comes from varied exposures to other viewpoints that we are willing to consider.

Sometimes, in my role as a peace maker (not the Colt .45 version!), my job is to not to “have” the solution, but to help others explore their options. Since you have to live with the choices you make, it is often better to be the one to make the choice you are willing to take ownership of.

WhittlingThe one thing I note, sometimes the number of possibilities are huge. You need to have some parameters to whittle down the number to a manageable few. Part of the solution is knowing the options of what may or may not work.

For example, one solution may require spending a lot of money – but your financial picture may not allow for this. So, you narrow your parameters down to something requiring less funds. Or, maybe it requires relocating and the options right now are not conducive.

Pro and COnAnother way of handling these potential solutions is to make a list of Pro and Con’s – For and Against. Over the years I cannot tell you how many solutions were arrived at by this simple “T” chart.

Weighing out one over the other can either make the picture of possibilities clearer, or it can narrow your focus on the being ready and able to make the correct choice.

With every challenge you face, you may have many “T” charts, and a wide range of experiences to chose from, but there will often be a narrowed focus on which one will rise to the top that will be the choicest of answers.

Now… “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” If you are satisfied that the answer will meet the challenge of the solution required – then grab it and go on about the remainder of your life!

“The risk of a wrong decision is preferable to the terror of indecision.” ~Maimonides



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