“For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the message was lost.
For want of a message the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.”
As you have experienced, small problems have the ability to mushroom into larger ones with incredible speed. Yet, there is a tendency to ignore or put off addressing issues that warrant your attention.
There are numerous reasons for this; procrastination, avoidance, denial, lack of awareness, lack of time, or hoping things will either fix themselves or go away. Regardless of why you don't address them, unresolved problems grow quickly and even multiply.
No matter how many times a person is burned by growing problems, many still don't change their approach. If you want things to change, you have to change them. Remember, doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is one definition of insanity.
Bigger problems generate more stress than smaller ones. Constant stress creates its own secondary problems. Judgment is impaired. Patience is diminished. All types of physical problems can follow as well.
At some point you do have to address your problems. It makes so much more sense to handle them while they are still small and more easily rectified. As you have already learned, putting them off doesn't work. So you need to develop a more effective strategy.
Begin by differentiating problems from symptoms. Problems lead to symptoms which themselves cause additional secondary problems if the original problems are ignored. Not only do ignored problems grow in size, they also grow in number.
Treating only symptoms leaves problems untouched. For example, if a lost nail causes the horseshoe to shift, the horse would start limping. So, if you erroneously identify the limp as the problem, you would then allow the horse to rest. Unless and until you accurately recognize the problem as a missing nail, you won't be able to formulate a solution. For maximum effectiveness, the root problem must be rectified.
Once you identify the root problem, the exact cause must be determined and corrected. Otherwise, the problem will keep recurring. Since, the missing nail is the real problem, it should be replaced. But why did it fall out in the first place? Was it the wrong size, the wrong shape, the wrong type, worn out, or defective? Unless it was worn or defective, the nail will continue to fall out unless a different type is used.
Your goal is to correct the root cause of a problem while it is still small and has not yet generated secondary problems. The sooner you identify and fix a problem, the better.
Problems that initially appear overwhelming should be broken down into smaller, manageable pieces. Each component can then be tackled individually. This approach enables you to expeditiously handle unwieldy issues.
Correcting problems as they arise prevents a problem backlog. Rather than being constantly bogged down by problems, you have the energy and freedom to stay on your desired course. You will be able to quickly identify and fix problems as they arise. Your stress level will drop while enthusiasm rises. No longer will you feel as if you are on a treadmill which is going a little faster than you can keep up.
NOW AVAILABLE: "Dare to Live Without Limits," the book. Visit www.BryanGolden.com or your bookstore. Bryan is a management consultant, motivational speaker, author, and adjunct professor. E-mail Bryan at
or write him c/o this paper. 2013 Bryan Golden