Always Butting Up Against the Same Problem? You Can Fix This!

April 24, 2017
By Zack Poelwijk
the same old thinking and disappointing results, closed loop or negative feedback mindset concept - a napkin doodle with a cup of coffee

The building where I work is getting a new roof. It’s been needed for a while. It’s an old building, and when leaks developed in the original roof, the building owners didn’t patch the roof. They put a new roof over that one. They’ve put four roofs on over the original one. So over the years when leaks developed, they would trickle down through the layers of roofing and the leak would come out nowhere near the actual hole.

I was talking with a graphic designer and web developer friend of mine recently, the day after the roofing work started. She said she had a client who created a website several years ago with a sentence containing a date. It’s one of those situations we try to avoid when we’re writing web text. It says something like, “We started this site 5 years ago…” and each year it’s wrong, because another year has gone by. (Say, “We started this site in 2010…” Problem solved.)

This client also used a non-web-based font for this text. So they had to add this text to their website as an image. Even if the designer sent them a file that they could edit, they wouldn’t be able to because they wouldn’t have the fonts.

The result? Every year they have to ask the designer to update the image and put it on their site. They’re paying her hourly fee to do this. She’s suggested that they replace the text with a different font that they can edit themselves. They keep saying no to this because paying her to replace the text costs a little bit more than paying her to fix the image each year.

Seth Godin said there are three ways to deal with a problem:

Lean into it.

Lean away from it.

Run away.

When you lean into a problem, you can solve it. Our roofers now are pulling up 5 layers of roofing material to get to the original roof so that they can finally, after decades, give it a proper fix. My friend’s client is going to pay a lot more for the website updating over the life of the site because they are running away from the solution of being able to update it themselves. Each year they pay $50 to have her fix this, when one year they could pay $100 to have her fix it permanently.

If you feel like you’re constantly butting up against something that you have to keep dealing with in an unpleasant way, give a little thought to how you can fix it. Not patch it. Fix it.

Are you constantly deleting unwanted emails? Decide that for one week you’re going to take the extra few seconds to unsubscribe from the unwanted emails. I’ve done this, and it’s amazing at what a lighter feeling I get now looking at my inbox.

Are you constantly paying someone for something that is on ongoing or recurring issue on your website? Maybe your inventory isn’t tracking very efficiently. Maybe you send out emails and they don’t get read. Maybe you’re meeting with people, but they don’t call you back.

Lean into the problem until you can find a way to fix it. Leaning away from a problem and running away from a problem are never going to pay off in your favor.

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