“..the things you can find if you don’t stay behind!” –Dr. Suess
Is it just me? Did anyone else learn problem-solving via “The Duct Tape Principle?”
My best problem-solving skills were built around horses. I was a free-range kid when I began riding and learning horsemanship, meaning there was little supervision. I was shown what to do and left to figure it out from then on.
If my horse put me in the dirt, a fence, a barrel or a rock would get me back in the saddle. If I skinned my knee or cracked my head, I rubbed dirt on it and rode on. Looking back, it seems my parents helped me learn survival skills by not helping too much. It was trial and error. I lived, so their plan worked. Or maybe it didn’t, I can’t be sure.
But that’s how many of us approach life today. If there’s a problem, we look for an answer using the easiest and nearest tools available. We keep fiddling with it until something works. The solution only needs to work well enough to let us move on. I call this: The Duct Tape Principle.
The funny thing about duct tape…
This is the traditional horsewoman’s approach. Once we move on, we stop worrying about the problem, until the tape wears out. We repeat our cobbled together, temporary fix, until “something” forces us to consider other options.
“Something” is usually money and time. Or, in the case of horses, a trip to the emergency room or the vet, which cost money and time, but with fear as a value add.
I rarely repeat the bandaid repair just once. For absolute certainty, I like to repeat the cobbled together fix multiple times, until it breaks completely. Then I think, while wading into my second hour on hold with a call center or worse, “there’s got to be an easier way.”
The cool thing about the tech revolution is someone somewhere is almost certainly trying to come up with better solutions to improve each of our lives than duct tape. But can someone create solutions that work for me and people like me, who believe in simple solutions?
The overwhelm factor…
The answer, according to the 3 or 4 million emails I get per day, is someone’s latest version of a feature-rich magic app guaranteed to balance my books, earn me a fortune and feed the chickens. I only need to set aside 6 days, 4 hours and 35 minutes to download, input my data and learn to use a 400 feature software solution that offers only two useful items I actually want. And all the extra features use memory, making my phone tired and grumpy. No one needs a grumpy phone.
Here’s a tip about people like me. As I age, time becomes ever more precious to me. Not just free time, but the time I spend doing the things I like to do versus doing the things I have to do.
And I like spending my time outdoors, on or around horses and livestock, breathing in the scents and surrounded by the sounds that go with farm life. I even enjoy hearing the gator driving around, because that means one of my friends is nearby, tending to the kind of work I like best.
So to all the problem-solvers out there trying to make my life easier, I have a suggestion: please make my life easier in the simplest way possible.
*Bonus tip: this may require (gasp) very few bells and maybe just one whistle.