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Simon says, “Be hard on problems and soft on people.”

•           People deserve consideration; problems do not.

•           Simon wants good people to stay, annoying problems to go away.

•           Problems need solutions; people need support.

•           People are not the problem, problems are the problem.

You are driving along a country road and run out of gas. Are you the problem or is your being out of gas the problem. Should you choose to focus your frustration on yourself and not deal with the problem, you could easily miss the point.

Your being out of gas is not the problem either. Your immediate problem is you cannot go with your plan to get where you were going by driving your car. Suppose, just as you ran out of gas, your trusted brother and his friend stopped and offered to give you a ride.

There, your problem is solved; but not quite. You cannot leave your car on a country road. Oh well, you will just sit there and pound on yourself. You are not off the hook. You did run out of gas.

“I don’t think so,” you say. You will see if they can either siphon some gas from their car or go get some and bring it back to you. You will be at least soft enough on your self and hard enough on the problem to take advantage of what now seems like an obvious solution.

Be honest now. You did assume you had neglected to get gas, did you not? Had you paid more attention, you would have avoided the problem all together.

Stop and think about this for a minute. Are there other reasons why a car might run out of gas? Is your screwing up the only reasonable explanation? Maybe you did forget; but if that is your only consideration, you could easily miss other, more serious reasons.

You likely can now think of a couple of additional reasons why you might have run out of gas having nothing to do with your neglect; but why did you need coached? More importantly, do you suppose you would have been less hard on someone else, slower to jump to conclusions, had that person been driving the car instead of you? It is unlikely. That is Simon’s point. There are other and many times more likely explanations for problems than, “People cause problems.” As Simon might say, “Problems cause problems. People are problem solvers. Be soft on people if you really want your problems solved.” It is the PPS thing to do. It is also most pragmatic and in your self-interest.

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