People Problems Are Complicated (And More Valuable To Solve)

When I’m doing financial planning work, I always have to remind people that there’s no perfect answer. 

There are some mathematically optimal answers, but with all the variables in life and the real world, we can’t predict everything, no should we try (nor should we imagine we can, no matter how pretty the report output looks!).  

It’s far more useful to focus on finding the mostly-right answers than obsess over the absolutely-right answers. . 

Seth Godin had a riff on this I wanted to share (emphasis added):

Engineering problems are difficult, but they have a right answer.

People problems, by their nature, are on a spectrum, a distribution of possible forward paths. But they’re complicated. A situation might not fit a person, and vice versa. Add a second person and now you have two people, and two people interacting exponentially increase the number of possibilities.

Knowing this takes the pressure off. Because there isn’t a perfect solution to a people problem. Simply an available path forward that helps us get to the next step.

When you’re dealing with people problems, take the pressure off of finding the perfect answer. 

Sure, if you are solving for something with known variables and little real-world mess, focus on the math. But, if you are dealing with a true people problem, focus on the people and the best path forward. 

There will be a next step, we just need to make sure we get to it.