[This post first appeared in June 2013.]
While driving in a downpour yesterday (and stuck in traffic) I began thinking about how wheels or tires move cars. Why do cars, trucks, bikes, 2 wheel hand trucks all “move”? Why of course, it is because they have wheels.
Is this a trick question? Well, kind of……..
You see wheels only “move” when they make contact with the ground. Wheels by themselves go round and round. Carousels, windmills, pinwheels, and ferris wheels go round and round. They go nowhere even though they turn in much the same way a tire or wheel does.
So you definitely need a wheel to touch the ground for it to move. Already, it took two parts and not one to make this work. What is not obvious is that you actually can’t reliably “move” using a wheel unless you have a third part — an axle for the wheel to spin on.
Without an axle a wheel would wobble and fall. There would be very little “moving” or distance covered without an axle. It is the axle that makes using a wheel together with the ground ubiquitous (seen and used everywhere), reliable, and long lasting.
Why even write about a wheel, the ground, and an axle? Because it reminds me of the depth required to effectively problem solve as well as to “navigate” in life.
We have all heard the saying that “thinking is hard work” and this is a good analogy describing why thinking is so hard. You see we all come across problems or issues that need solving.
We work hard to make the wheel (by itself) work so that our problem or issue is solved quickly. Disappointment traps us into discouragement when not much happens or changes by the solution we chose to try.
Rarely do we spend time looking around the problem looking for a second part to connect to our wheel to make a solution work better for the problem we face. At a minimum, many times you really do need more than a wheel to get things done. You need to step back, look at the context or environment around your issue so that you can find your “ground” to get movement. We rarely think of the ground (a second part) as being necessary to our solution.
That is why context and the environment around the problem is so important to be looked at. The wheel by itself was not enough to move. Looking at the ground by itself was not enough to create movement. You need to find and then connect two parts to make most things work.
Two parts to a solution that work together is more powerful and effective than one. Where intuition and some skill further separates people is in the few who, search, fail, and try again understanding that two parts are not enough to “nail it” — to find a reliable, effective long term solution to the issue we face.
They don’t settle for the two part solution. They really do feel that while it has helped immensely (to connect and use two parts for a solution) their work is not complete until they find something else that will leverage their solution to make it 100 times better than before.
Writing about this took under an hour. Searching for the 2nd and 3rd part to a solution could take days, weeks, months, or even years. I have found that most people lose focus after finding their wheel (one part) to solve a problem.
Never consider your work done but rather evolving. Complete your thinking by being persistent and pushing further to find your three parts (I agree finding the third part is the hardest). It is a secret to becoming more effective that takes a lifetime to learn.