Mother Might Not Know Best

There was a young woman started dating a young man. A few months into their relationship they reached that well-known milestone: meeting the parents. In this instance, it was family Thanksgiving.

The young woman was a wonderful cook and greatly enjoyed preparing an array of dishes for the holiday. She asked her boyfriend if he would like to help her prepare the Thanksgiving ham. Of course, he agreed.

The boyfriend became a little perplexed when he watched his new girlfriend lay the ham on the cutting board and proceed to chop 1/4 off the end. She then placed the large portion in one pan and the smaller portion in a different pan.

“Why did you do that?” he asked, “why did you cut the end off and put it in a different pan?”

“That’s what I always do,” she replied, “my mom always made the ham this way and it’s how she taught me.”

The boyfriend was extremely curious as to why this was the preferred method for preparing the ham. He and his girlfriend went into the living room and asked her mother, “why did you always cut the end off of the ham before you cooked it?”

“I’m not sure,” she answered, “that’s how my mom always did it and I never asked her why.”

So they went down to the basement where grandma was watching the Thankgsiving parade.

“Grandma,” said the young woman, “why did you always cut the end off of the ham and cook it in a separate dish?”

“Well,” said Grandma, “I didn’t have a pan big enough for the whole ham. I had to cut the end off and cook it in another pan to make it fit.”

“Think Outside the Box”

Don’t Exchange One Box For Another

We’ve all heard it before, “think outside the box.” But do we really understand what the “box” is?

At the end of the day, the box can be anything. In many attempts to think outside the box, we may actually just be stepping from one box to another, potentially bigger, box.

“We can not solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.”

Albert Einstein

In order to solve problems, you first have to make a difficult acknowledgement. You are most likely the creator of the very problems you are trying to solve. Each of us has far more control over our life than we are willing or able to believe. The key to solving problems is to choose to think differently, to choose to see your problems in a different way than you have up to this point.

The young woman in the story was making her holiday meal preparations far more complicated than they needed to be. She was, quite literally, creating problems. It took an outside perspective to question the current way of doing things and help find the solution. Turns out, there was no need to cut off the end of the ham. At one point, cutting the ham was a way to solve a problem, but now, it was a problem in itself.

How To Solve Problems

The key to solving problems is to learn to become your own outside perspective. Self-awareness is the capacity to take a third-party view of your own life. Your goal is to be able to objectively observe and make adjustments to yourself, as if you were watching someone else.

This shift in perspective allows you to look at problems from a different perspective than you currently have. In many cases, the answer is literally staring you in the face, the problem is that you’re looking right past it because you think the answer couldn’t possibly be that close.

You don’t have to think anything. You can choose how to think and what to think. Problem solving occurs when you abandon your biases and assumptions and allow yourself to experience a new viewpoint.

What’s your version of cutting off the end of the ham? What are you doing right now simply because you were told to or watched someone else do it?

Questioning your assumptions is the foundation of problem solving. Don’t wait to find out Grandma didn’t have a big enough pan.