In view of the coronavirus pandemic, we are making LIVE CLASSES and VIDEO CLASSES completely FREE to prevent interruption in studies

Why You Shouldn’t Waste Time on Fixing the Wrong Things

How Not to Be a Pretentious Fool

” Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe. ” ~ Abraham Lincoln.

This magnificent quote, by one of America’s truly brilliant presidents, carries with it an important life lesson – that the right problem is not always the most obvious one. Any man would go straight to work with the blunt axe and call anyone who supposedly “wastes” his time sharpening his blade a “jackass”. Yet in the final analysis, that person is the one who proves to be a real jackass.

Working Smart v. Working on Auto-Pilot!

It takes a nearly equal amount of time to solve the wrong problems as much as the right ones, but if you are solving the wrong problems, you are probably just wasting your time. Many times, the same kind of opportunity doesn’t come knocking along your way. And in hindsight, you see your expectations coming down one way while it should have come down another.

The best strategy I can think about finding the right problem is somewhat anti-orthodox, in the sense that it goes against the flow of what society asks us to do in his kind of a situation. Instead of thinking about what would happen in 10 minutes, 10 days, 10 months and then 10 years, go in the opposite direction. First ask yourself how comfortable would you be ten years from now, then ten months from now, and then ten days and ten minutes. Remember that the distant future – the time when you will be in somewhat of a stagnant state in life (if you chose to settle down) matters the most to you right now. This will give you a perspective on what to solve next. It will also keep you away from the herd mentality – which Robin Sharma calls ‘auto-pilot’.

Figuring it like House MD

You can take inspiration from diagnosticians as to how to find the right problems, for it is indeed their skill in finding out the problems that win them their bread and butter. Now, diagnosticians are distinctly keen and curious by nature, as anyone who has seen House MD (An American television medical show) will agree. They will meticulously scan and analyze a given patient, and use a trial-and-error method for an extremely brief amount of time to see their effects, and will eventually, but definitely find out the problem. Then all that remains is giving the patients the medicine for their particular illness and cure their sickness. Oh, and they do all this while racing against time. You can now think about how disastrous it might be if they jumped to a wrong conclusion. At this point, another quote by Albert Einstein comes to my mind: “Given one hour to save the planet, I would spend 59 minutes understanding the problem and one minute resolving it.”

Finding Out the Difficulty is Half the Problem Solved!

Now, life can be thought of as a collection of events, just like the career of a diagnostician can be considered to be a collection of successful and unsuccessful files. Of course, there’s more to both cases than the examples I used to represent them, but such an approximation cannot be called completely invalid. When you find a tough situation on your doorstep, it might be good practice to thoroughly analyse the situation, grab the basic facts, and diagnose the problem. And this might not be as easy, or indeed as obvious, as these words seem to indicate. A doctor would ask their patient about their uneasiness, or the parts of their body that are in pain. Similarly, you need to ask yourself, or others whom you regard highly and completely trust, about the symptoms – and those symptoms, in turn, tell you what the real problem is. And I assure you, the real problems are hardly the most obvious ones.

And, once you are done with finding what the actual problem is, which is by no means an easy task, you can go forth to find the solution, which is a story for another day.

Read Also: 

Life Problems You’ll Face When You’ll Turn 25 

13 Essential Life Skills I Wish Somebody had Taught Me When I Was Younger

5 Must-Watch Ted Talks That Will Change your Life

Are you slow and accurate?
Or quick but careless?

Practice from a bank of 300,000+ questions , analyse your strengths & improvement opportunities.

No thanks.

Request a Free 60 minute counselling session at your home

Please enter a valid phone number
  • Happy Students


    Happy Students
  • Questions Attempted


    Questions Attempted
  • Tests


    Tests Taken
  • Doubts Answered


    Doubts Answered