Successful Events #3 Solving the Worst Problem
When I was a principal of an elementary school, I used to meet with individual teachers quite often. Inevitably the question that I would ask them to answer was to identify for me the worst problem that they were having in there class because I knew that if they solved the worst problem everything else would get better. No one gives much attention to the minor problems or puts much energy in them, and no one goes to therapy for relatively easy things to solve. We all want to have the big stuff dealt with. I learned that the best way to start working on the worst problem with teachers was to just ask them what it was. They always told me.
The logic for dealing with the worst problem is quite simple. The worst problem creates the greatest amount of negative energy in a group or event or meeting or in oneself. When you solve the worst problem, it automatically invigorates the environment of the meeting with positive energy. Most of us have the problem of having to attend meetings that are largely one-sided, that is, they are planned by leaders who have their own agenda to meet their own self interests. We are the ones excluded from the meeting because they are not thinking about us. They are not anxious to hear our most pressing issues because they are only interested in addressing their own issues related to their own desires. It is pretty sad, but that is the way most events are run.
If you are in charge of meeting, then the planning process is simple. For instance, some times I am asked to plan a meaningful event for a holy day. So I ask myself who is likely to be most excluded or have the most difficulty at the event. Usually it is children, but it could be someone who doesn’t speak the language very well. For some reason, as soon as I include the children by making the stories more visual or simpler or add a lot of activity in the event, then everyone loves the event because prior to that the children were the big problem that took focus away from having a meaningful experience.
The world’s worst problems seem to be connected with leaders who have nothing but self interest so that the ability to plan successfully is often usurped by their selfishness or undealt with fears. When I give into their fears, the events become diluted and lose the vitality necessary to make them successful. Most leaders don’t want to have to deal with the most difficult problems people are facing, and the further down you are on the economic or or social ladder, the less agenda time you will get. What leaders want is for recognition and resources to flow to them. What I found by asking teachers what their greatest problems were, was that most of the problems weren’t even in the classrooms, but at home or in a personal relationship. So then I would talk to them about their relationships outside of school and then suddenly their teaching would get a lot better. It is so simple. Positive energy is positive energy. When it is released, it affects everything in a positive manner.
My worst problem in my classes nowadays tends to be children who are trying to get undue attention. It is not surprising since that is the world’s model of behavior right now in shows like ______________Idol or Amazing Race or Fear Factor. When I give them a small amount of discipline so that they can refocus on tasks instead of trying to show off and get everyone’s attention, then the whole class suddenly works extremely hard. The positive energy goes to achievement rather than to “look at me”.
Well, it is pretty hard to discipline an out of control leader, but you can attend to areas where they are not. The world’s leadership doesn’t like to pay attention to people who have been the most excluded because the leaders are the ones who have made them that way. However, since the leaders are not paying attention to the most excluded, it means that the work there will improve the fastest when it is attended to and the benefits will generalize to all parts of society. Just ignore the leaders and go for the real issues. This seems to be the key to success these days!