The Best Time to Solve A Problem

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I found this to be great advice for anyone who is stuck with an issue. This works for business as well as, life issues.

The Best Time to Solve A Problem

By Nick Radovanovic

Before I begin, I’d like to take a minute explaining that I am not the type to read self-help books or attend motivational seminars. I would much rather read a novel set in 19th century Russia than Rich Dad, Poor Dad. If you speak to highly successful people, none of them have motivational books in their bookshelf, anyway.
I’ve always believed that I alone can come up with the inner strength needed to tackle life’s problems and attain my objectives.

However, there is one quote from a successful person that has given me a tremendous boost, and vastly improved my ability to juggle my workload. One single sentence turned out to be a gift which I treasure to this day.

The quote came from Carlos Ghosn. This is an amazing character who went from most-villified person in Japan to semi-deity, in a matter of months.

Back in the late 1990’s, when Japan’s economy was doing badly (and the rest of the world was still doing well), the French automaker Renault bought a stake in Nissan, which was on the verge of bankruptcy. They sent in Ghosn (pronounced Goan), a Brazilian of Lebanese decent, to run Nissan.

Ghosn’s instatement as CEO of Nissan was a major cultural shock in Japan. People were used to the idea of Japanese companies buying up businesses all over the world, but to have a foreign company buy up a major domestic automaker and put a Caucasian in charge to run it was a like a bomb exploding in the middle of Tokyo.

The name Nissan happens to mean, Japan Made.

A foreigner could not possibly understand the uniquely Japanese way of doing business, or the finer points of Japanese culture that had allowed Japan to be what it was.

Ghosn did not disappoint his detractors. He closed factories and laid off thousands – something no Japanese CEO would have dared to do. Ghosn was everyone’s worst nightmare. He was the devil incarnate. To image the degree to which people hated him, bring to mind the way liberals in the US felt about George W Bush.

But a scant one or two years later, Nissan was raking in record profits. Nissan cars were hot again and selling like hotcakes. New factories were being built. Almost overnight, Ghosn became one of the most respected persons in the country. People literally genuflected before him. He became, and still is, something of a deity. Japanese reporters interviewing him used a reverent tone normally reserved for the imperial family.

Of course, foreign reporters from news organizations such as the BBC would have none of this. They asked hard questions. I remember an interview Ghosn gave just as Nissan was starting to emerge from its darkest days. Someone asked him why he hadn’t negotiated further with the unions (or something like that).

Ghosn said, “The best time to solve a problem, is now.”

In other words, a problem may be unpleasant, but the effort required to solve it will only increase with time. Solving the problem now will remove the problem from the list of problems to solve, and free up time and resources for more productive tasks. Therefore, it is expedient, more efficient, and easier to solve the problem as soon as possible. Not later, not tomorrow, but now, as in right this minute.

The best time to solve a problem is now.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but that sentence would change my productivity forever. I gradually started hearing this phrase every time I faced an unpleasant task. Whenever I confront something that needs to be done, I hesitate momentarily. The option of ignoring the problem and carrying on presents itself. It is tempting to pretend the problem doesn’t exist, or to just push it back to the queue for handling ‘later’. But I then conjure up Ghosn’s magic words, like a spell.

The best time to solve a problem is now.

Right! I then jump right in and start dealing with the problem without any hesitation. Done! I can remove the problem from my to-do list.

Ghosn’s spell works for domestic chores. Notice something untidy? Pick it up and restore it to its position there and then – otherwise you’ll soon have to spend a whole day, or even weekend, cleaning up and setting things straight.

I used to have a permanent pile of unwashed dishes. If I needed a particular knife, I’d often need to wash it, dry it, and then use it. Nowadays, I still have a stack of unwashed dishes – I process them in batches – but the stack is much smaller, and I never have unwashed pots or pans or other items that are used frequently. It is such a luxury to be able to have any item available when I need it.

It works for business, too. Something not functioning? Fixing it now will allow more time for dealing with ancillary problems brought up during the fixing process. It minimizes revenue lost and frees up time and resources for investing in new capaibilities.

A problem usually turns out to be much easier to deal with than anticipated. Unsolved, it hangs over us, like a gloomy cloud, dampening our spirits. But when tackled, it turns out to be not as bad as we thought. By dealing with a problem now, rather than later, we are reducing the time the gloomy cloud can cast a shadow over our life.

Like any rule of thumb, the rule has exceptions. If you continue solving problems one after another, you’ll never get any sleep. So you have to have a cut-off time for all your problem solving activity. But generally, Ghosn’s wisdom holds true for just about any problem.

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