Take Your Problem Solving to the Next Level

Rod Pickett
2 min readApr 1, 2024

A clever person solves a problem. A wise person avoids it.
Albert Einstein

I just returned from a student exchange trip to Sicily.

It was great reconnecting with old friends.

I also had the opportunity to make some new friends.

One of my new acquaintances was a member of the Polizia di Stato in Palermo who was trained as a bodyguard.

I enjoy learning from people with diverse knowledge and experiences.

I asked my new friend about his main focus as a bodyguard.

He said it was “watching.”

He was literally looking for trouble.

Then I pictured him discovering an armed assailant heading towards the VIP he was responsible for protecting.

I could see him using some exotic technique to disarm the criminal.

So, I asked him if he had studied a specific form of martial arts.

He answered, “No.”

“How do you disarm someone with a weapon?”

“My top priority is to get the VIP away from the dangerous situation.”

Avoiding potential problems is better than an elegant takedown of a bad guy.

The takedown would provide plenty of action and drama.

Drama, unlike in movies, is not desirable in real life.

I have found it helpful to anticipate potential problems.

It seems that this could result in a pessimistic outlook.

But the purpose for thinking about what could go wrong is not to worry.

The first goal is to prevent the problem from arising. If that is not possible, then we should have an idea how to fix it.

A good example is when I am driving.

I try to anticipate what the other drivers might do.

I look ahead for situations that might cause my lane to slow down.

If I need to change lanes in front of a large truck, I try to make sure the driver has plenty of time to slow down if necessary.

I also use this strategy when I am writing.

I try to anticipate how a hypothetical reader might misunderstand a sentence.

If necessary, I rewrite the sentence to avoid confusing my potential readers.

We can use this approach in many different situations at work and in our personal lives.

It is not possible to avoid every problem.

We want to avoid spending so much time and energy trying to find out what could go wrong that we never get started.

Anticipating potential problems is not the final goal.

The goal is to avoid unnecessary risks and to be prepared when things go sideways.

This mindset gives us more confidence and makes it more likely that we will reach our desired destination.

— Rod Pickett

Now available at Amazon: The Courageous Heart: Wisdom for Difficult Times in paperback and eBook, an Eric Hoffer Award Finalist.



Rod Pickett

Rod Pickett is a writer, pastor, teacher, photographer, real estate broker, personal trainer, consultant, trained hypnotist, woodworker and life-long learner.