If you are a manager or leader, you will be pressed to fix problems by suggesting or implementing solutions of your own. So work is fertile ground for you to learn how to resist the temptation some of the time.
Practice helping them fix problems themselves. You’ll get credit for helping them develop and mature as employees. You’ll stop being overwhelmed by the constant stream of help everyone needs and find more career-advancing ways to spend your day. And you’ll be taller.
I learned how to do this after taking my first mediation course years ago while a college dean. I tried it out the very next day I was in the office.
A student came in and sat down across the table from me. She described a problem with a professor and she spared no details. With each detail unearthed, I could see the problem inching its way toward me across the round table. On she went, and closer crept the problem until it was right in front of me, hovering on my side of table, threatening to tumble over the edge into my lap.
I put my hands out to stop it. I covered it with my hands and said, “Here’s what we’re going to do. I’m going to take this problem you’ve just nudged over to me and I’m going to slide it on back across the table to you.” My hands moved across the table, then gave a final little shove of the problem toward her.
She started down at the table, frowning. “What do you want me to do with it?” I could tell she didn’t like the problem’s close proximity.
“I’m going to help you figure out how to fix it. I’ll work with you as long as you need, but I’m not going to fix it for you.”
When I’d headed to work that day, I was only 5’1”. When I left, I’d returned to the 5’9” of my early adult years. Fixing other people’s problems for them, it turns out, is a lot of weight to carry around.