The Fastest Way To Eliminate A Problem

How This Single Simple Truth Can Change A Lot

Over the course of my career I've had the pleasure of bringing to life dozens of TV commercials as part of a slew of different ad campaigns for a variety of colleges and universities.

Along the way, I’ve been afforded the opportunity to travel the country, shooting in over 35 states with several hundred different crew members.

It was during some of my earliest shoots at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) that I relied heavily on Hank, our Executive Producer, to not just guide our productions, but guide me as I worked with our team to bring our collective vision to life.

Hank got his start as a production assistant, working his way up to become one of MTV's top music video producers. He shot with the likes of Aerosmith, Guns & Roses, Nine Inch Nails, and Marky Mark.  He produced films that have premiered at Sundance and he dabbled in Television, producing pilots for networks like ABC, NBC and TNT, all in hopes of bring a new series back to his hometown of Boston.

Ultimately Hank settled down into the stability of commercial work, owning and operating his own Boston-based production company, which is where I met him in 2011, when I moved from LA to New Hampshire to join up with SNHU.  

Hank was so mellow it was maddening. On our productions, we dealt with bad weather, bus breakdowns, and flight delays; bad food, sick crew, and just about anything else you could imagine. 

But along the way, Hank never lost his cool. And it was on one such occasion when everything that could go wrong had that I asked him how he dealt with all these problems. And he said:

"If you can solve a problem in 15 minutes it's not a problem. It's simply an inconvenience."

And the truth is, Hank was right. While we dealt with tons of issues on set, so many were quick fires with quick solutions. And if these really were issues we could quickly address, were they really actually issues at all?

That little gem has been one that has worked wonders for me, on set and off. Because I realized that more often than not, I was spending more time worrying about a problem than I was actually solving it.

And while it's by no means absolute, the reality often is…

The fastest way to eliminate a problem is to realize you might not actually have one

Now this isn't to say there aren't big, elephant-sized problems out there, because there are. But it's important to realize that if we're not careful, sometimes those little inconveniences can lead to some elephant-sized stress.

So the next time you're faced with a problem, ask yourself how long it will take you to solve. If all it'll take is 15 minutes, perhaps it's not a problem at all.

Because as Hank likes to say…

If you can solve a problem in 15 minutes it's not a problem. It's simply an inconvenience.

Editor’s Note

An earlier version of this post previously appeared on my LinkedIn. If we’re not connected there already, feel free to add me.

Here’s to hoping this week’s problems turn out to be inconveniences. But if they don’t, please know you have a friend in me.