Consumed by a Problem You Can’t Solve?

Several years ago an executive told me that if I knew about a problem that was unsolved, it didn’t matter how hard I wanted to be a part of the solution,…   I was a part of the problem until it was solved.  

Ouch. That was a hard pill to swallow.


Recently I was reminded of that pill, as someone contacted me and asked for my help.

  • First I listened.
  • Then I offered some advice.

A few months passed and I received another call from this person. The conversation was essentially the same conversation we’d had a few months earlier and other than talking, this person had done nothing to change their situation.

So, I reminded the person on that my time was valuable, I was willing to offer advice, but they had to take ownership and act. Additionally, their actions would determine if I would get more involved or not.

A few months later… The phone rang again. And nothing had changed.


In another situation, lots of people were complaining.

When they were reminded that they could be a part of the problem or a part of the solution…

  • Some of them started generating ideas and then jumped in to help.
  • While others, just wanted to tell others what they “should do”.

If you are dealing with a problem that you are struggling to solve on your own, consider this:

  1. You won’t create any solutions feeling sorry for yourself. (…But you will probably alienate people that could help you.)
  2. Solutions won’t fall out of the sky by complaining to others. (They’ll eventually get tired of the fuss you make and take what you say with a grain of salt.)
  3. Solutions won’t come by asking for the advice of others, if you won’t take any ownership and act. (They’ll stop listening and offering to help.)
  4. You aren’t really part of the solution if you are only willing to sit on the sidelines generating ideas for other people to act on. (And ohhh do you miss out, on opportunities to build relationships, to be creative, to make a difference, and to have more joy in your life!!!)

If you really want a solution, you must take some ownership and… 

What are your thoughts?Do you know anyone struggling with a problem?  What advice would you give them?  

Want more?

Image Credit:  iStock

President, Giana Consulting

Chery Gegelman is an adventurer that loves to learn. ...Deep conversations, books, travel, and daily living are all food for growth.

As a speaker, facilitator and workshop leader she creates energizing environments that reflect God's grace, tear down walls, help people to consider new perspectives, and inspire change.

Chery is the Founder of Giana Consulting and Conversation Safari's, listed as a Great Leadership Speaker by Inc., writes a recognized leadership blog and has co-authored two leadership books.

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2 thoughts on “Consumed by a Problem You Can’t Solve?

  1. OMGoodness! that is so common. I haven’t counselled leaders on their problem-solving techniques or lack thereof, but this is so like people I know who regurgitate the same complaints over and over and say for the 250th time, “I should”. Seriously? If you should – then do it. And if you don’t like the results of inertia, put some legs on the complaints and get up and do something to change it. I’m speaking to myself here too. If I don’t like the way things are turning out, then it’s time to make a different turn.

    Thank you for consistently posting things that make perfect sense.