Focus on problem, not blame

From this perspective

Pointing a finger and assigning blame to a problem accomplishes very little and may even hinder advancement. You know, a little common sense goes a long way. We can accomplish much more when we focus on fixing the problems that we encounter, rather than spending time fixing the blame. At least, that is as I have seen it as I traveled these many years on the highway of life.

To be sure, it is an exciting trip and a stimulating adventure as we travel on life’s highway. Truly, life experiences are often demanding, but they can be most rewarding. Life is peaked with unique fond remembrances, but not without unexpected challenging problems along the way. All in all, this life of ours is a gratifying adventure. Each of us walk the road of life but, we rarely ever walk alone. True, we may approach each day and oncoming events distinctly in our own way. However, in reality, we all have somethings in common. Each of us have many of the same needs, wants, hopes and desires. And parenthetically, we share many of the same problems and satisfactions. As we face life, we benefit from each other by sharing the processes that seem to work best for us. You know, life has its common challenges and we all benefit from life’s common beneficial outcomes.

It all began for “yours truly” at the time when there was economic financial depression felt by most in the 1930’s. Thinking back, the norms were quite different at that time. In the Greater Buffalo area, radio was just getting its early footing. And, traveling on snow clogged rural roads was by horse and sled. One-room rural schools were most prominent in the country side, and “Mom and Pop” stores were common place. And, at that time, Nazism and fascism raised its ugly and immoral head. Times and events have changed all that. Radio’s two networks … the red and the blue … have evolved into highly sophisticated multi communication networks heard instantaneously around the world. Traveling patterns of the Model T and/or the horse and sled/wagon area, have changed drastically, with travel at the speed of sound, connecting continents rather than just roadway corners. Virtually, the one-room schools are a thing of the past, and on-line teaching practices are in place, connecting virtual classrooms with highly interactive instruction is the new norm. And, large sprawling box stores are in vogue, incorporating the size of several hundred “Mom and Pop” stores under one large shopping roof. And the ravage of fascist Nazism of the 1930s and ’40s was crushed. Ah yes, things changed. To be sure, with change, there were problems … many problems involving physical and emotional dynamics. But also, at the same time, there were great problem solvers with down to earth solutions with visionary hopes and work ethic values. The mental construct of that era, was to focus on problem-solving and positive results rather than assigning blame when things went wrong. And great advances took place.

Currently, we are faced with challenging political and social issues. These monumental challenges call for stalwart common scene problem solving and NOT overblown problem blaming. Unfortunately, research shows that people tend to take credit when things go right and to blame others when things go wrong. These instincts are typically most intense when the stakes are high and when self-serving power seeking is ensued. Research shows that blame erodes morale, slows progress, and undermines working and social relationships. Individuals and groups that blame one another when mistakes happen, get stuck at precisely the time when people most need to pull together to meet great challenges or fix monumental problems. If ever there was such a time, that time is NOW!

In short, “fixing the problem, and not fixing the blame” is a powerfully creative principle. Indeed, history has recorded that past generations, such as our ancestors, genuinely understood that principle. Truly, we are the beneficiaries of those earlier thoughtfully creative generations who knew how to fix the problem and not assign the blame. Hopefully, may it be that future generations will say the same of OUR times and OUR generation. There is no doubt, our actions of today will be tomorrow’s recorded history.

Dr. Robert L. Heichberger is a resident of Gowanda and Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus at SUNY Fredonia.

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