Fixer or creator

Photo by Dillon Mangum on Unsplash

Professionally speaking I’m not a content expert. It’s the process of creating that interests me. For example, the way a board of directors defines strategic direction. How existing teams accomplish new things together. The motivation behind big collaborations chipping away together at gnarly social challenges.

I get called to fix things. But at heart, I’m a creator.

I start by listening to the issues and concerns posed by my clients. What I ultimately help them define — and plan for — is what they want. The end result. When all is said and done, what will have been created? What’s the outcome?

And yet, our culture has a deep bias in favor of problem-solving. It’s especially ingrained in business. Hiring managers want people who are good problem solvers. Candidates emphasize their problem-solving prowess in resumes and interviews. What they convey explicitly and implicitly is, “I’ll take problems off your plate so you don’t have to deal with them; even I myself will never be a problem to you, my manager.”

I’m not saying there’s no value in problem solving. After all, when your roof leaks, you want it fixed. You do the research, make the calls, schedule the repair. Something happens, you respond.

Is it getting you what you want?

But think about this: You could solve all your problems and still not have what you want. Getting rid of irritants is not the same as building a life, or a business.

If your roof is leaking and you recognize that what you’re really after is a dry interior, it would lead to a different approach. Yes, you still want the leak fixed but you would also arrange for an inspection of the entire roof. And you’d figure out a way to complete the needed repairs before the next rain.

Are you a fixer or creator?

If you’re curious about your dominant pattern, consider whether you:

  • delay action until prompted by external stimuli
  • enjoy a jolt of heroism when you successfully solve a problem
  • want things that you can’t quite articulate

… or do you …

  • approach new projects with a clear sense of what you want to produce
  • initiate the necessary steps to bring it about
  • factor in what reality is telling you so you can adjust course along the way

Problem-solving is a valuable skill to possess; people who excel at problem-solving are well-compensated. At the end of the day, however, if you discover that your life or organization is missing something, perhaps you’ve been putting more attention on fixing than creating. That realization can be startling and a bit disconcerting. If that’s the case, I recommend tapping tapping the expertise of Fritz and Ferris, in this order:

Robert Fritz, Creating, Your Life As Art, and Identity
Tim Ferris, The Four Hour Work Week