Two Ways To Solve a Problem

When you have a problem or weakness, there are two ways to approach it:

Most people will pay to have the problem solved. Inefficient production process? Hire a consultant. Online marketing presence a bit weak? Hire a PR firm. Don’t understand the laws surrounding your business? Hire a lawyer. You get the idea. It’s a one-for-one scenario: the problem presents itself, you hire the help or buy the machine that fixes it, and that’s the end of the cycle.

The second approach is something more extraordinary, but requires far more effort: you learn how to solve the problem yourself. That inefficient production process? Might be worth reading The Toyota Way and tinkering with the issue yourself. Online marketing a bit weak? Maybe you should start reading Copyblogger, or spending time on Distilled U. Even if you do need to hire someone – maybe the problem you’re facing is incredibly complex, nuanced, or out of your league – it’s worth finding the professional who is willing to teach you how to work on your own once their work is complete, as opposed to someone who just wants to do the work for you without teaching you anything.

One approach empowers you in business and life – it makes you more valuable, skillful, and grants you a deeper understanding of the world around you. Learning isn’t necessarily cheaper – that isn’t the point. In fact, sometimes it’s more expensive – the payoff is agility. The other approach is simply running on a treadmill – you make out no wiser, and no more aware of your weaknesses. Your problem is solved, and your pockets have been emptied, but continued ignorance is your only receipt.

Mashable recently had an article about TaskRabbit, and one of their points hit on this exactly: you could pay someone to fix a leaky pipe, or you can pay the same amount to a handyman, and have them teach you how to fix the leaky pipe. Which way do you choose to approach the problems in your business?