Put your problems in context

It is really easy to become very concerned with a problem that in the end is just a little problem.

You uncover the issue, and it nags at you. There’s a voice inside your head crying “fix me” and you find it difficult to focus on other things and get things done.

My son has been living and working in Tanzania for a few years now. He’s Head of Physics in a private school and it is a very different world to the one we know. There is very limited internet, restricted water supply during the dry season and frequent power cuts. On the more positive front, he is on the doorstep of some of the most famous safari parks in the world and occasionally has monkeys in the garden!

One phrase that has come from his experience is “first world problem” which is used as a response to a complaint about something minor. We might say “there’s nothing worth watching on TV tonight” and the response would be “first world problem. You have a TV, power supply….!”

So does the problem you are obsessed with really matter?

Is the coffee machine broken? Perhaps the printer is not working as it should be.
There’s a problem with the sandwiches? (That was always my favourite. A business I ran provided subsidized lunches. They were the subject of so many complaints it was almost a relief to get rid of the perk when we had to save some money)

Is it affecting your customers?

If the answer is no, that makes it a bit like a “first world problem.” It might be an irritation, perhaps it is hampering your efficiency but in the end, you are working around it and the customer never knows.

If the answer is yes, then you are right to obsess over it and get it fixed. It affects your customer – so it really matters.

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