The heroes that first come to mind are larger than life with extraordinary talents. During their quests they are the ultimate problem solvers. But could they be just like you and I?
My husband is considered as a bit of a hero around our neighbourhood. Like most heroes, problem solving is in his bones. A gear head, heavy equipment operator, self-taught handyman and former farm hand, he can usually figure anything out if it has a motor, can be sawn or pulled into bits. If anyone comes up the driveway with a problem, he will say, “Ok, let me see what I can figure out”. He will look at whatever it is, shake his head, hum a little, and if all else fails, go for a smoke, and think deeply by pacing up and down the driveway. He is most likely to say, “I think I have something in the shed that will do the trick,” Our neighbours call it the magic shed, as you never know what will come out of it or what the contents will be used for. His idea of “fixing things”, is a little bit like my cooking, every solution is just a little different and a little strange, but quite satisfying. This gift of his is maybe not a breakthrough invention but his insights are always new and fresh. He is my hero because he defies convention and is quite comfortable with his filters off. I sometimes work with him on a practical problem. I am the opposite of a gear head, but I sometimes see things from a different angle, which helps him solve the problem.
Does a hero qualify as a problem solver? I would say yes. Do heroes have something that problem solvers may not have? Perhaps.
So, what does this tell me about problem solvers? A problem solver
- Is often a generalist that can draw on knowledge from a number of fields
- Is not afraid to take on a problem
- Will take the time to think things through
- Doesn’t jump at the first thought
- Is able to see possibilities. He is able to say, “How might we?”
- Has a variety of tools available to hand
- Tailors the solution to the situation
OK. Does a hero qualify as a problem solver? I would say yes. Do heroes have something that problem solvers may not have? Perhaps.
So what does this tell me about heroes? Heroes
- Can be everyday people
- Allow themselves to be vulnerable
- Can accept and appreciate helping hands.
- Find the energy to move forward when others feel helpless and can only scratch their heads
Digging deeper, I realized that most of all, my husband inspires trust among our neighbours. They trust that he will somehow manage to solve their problem. That’s why they come and why they come back. How does he do that? First of all, he doesn’t try to upsell his capacity. He has a quiet open way about him that invites people to tell him what they need. They also feel that they can confide in him about what they have tried already.
My neighbours also know that he won’t rush them. He listens and is open to suggestion. In this way, they feel a part of the process. They can see what he is trying out, what he is using and how the various bits and pieces are helping to solve the problem. Of course, the magic shed is a source of wonder. How is it that just the tool that they needed or something similar can usually be found in that shed?
But as most heroes, my husband is also human. He has his equipment failures, and he has his mishaps. What is important is that he can manage his ego. He can and will tell people that he cannot help them and why. What he does do is give them suggestions of other avenues to pursue. This way my neighbours are never disappointed, feeling that they always come away with something.
Have they become part of his fan club? Absolutely. Are they totally dependent on the hero to get themselves out of any messes? No, of course not. My husband is very free with his knowledge. He makes sure that whomever it is can see what is done and participates. I guess he is both a mentor and a hero. Does he have those God-like powers that identify the Greek heroes? Is he a Lean Six Sigma Sensei, an Agile practitioner, a Design thinking aficionado? No, he is just an everyday hero, but he manages, more often than not, to solve the problem. His “can do” attitude, practical thinking skills, functional strength and deep knowledge of people serve him well. He is my hero!