Stuck truck

A prudent question is one half wisdom.
Francis Bacon
1561 – 1626

There was a news story a few years back about an eighteen-wheeler transporting heavy equipment. The driver attempted to go through an underpass, but his load was a little too high and the truck got stuck. It was lodged there and couldn’t go forward or backward.

The authorities were called in and everyone was standing around evaluating the situation. The truck only needed a couple of inches to clear the underpass, but it looked like the only solution was to dismantle or remove a portion of the cargo, let the truck pass and then reload the equipment. So the driver called for some heavy equipment to do just that, despite the fact that it would be expensive and time consuming.

Well, as often happens in these situations, the incident attracted a lot of bystanders. One was a young boy on a bicycle. After watching and listening to all the discussions, the young boy finally got the courage to go to the driver and make a suggestion.

“Why don’t you just let some air out of the tires?”

Within minutes and at almost no cost, the problem was solved. The tires were deflated just enough to get the load through, then they were re-inflated. Problem solved.

You may smile at the fact that a young boy came up with such a simple, effective solution when all the authorities were calling for costly and complicated measures. But most of us are guilty of the same sort of thinking in our daily lives. We try to make things more complicated than they actually are; we fail to look for simple or obvious solutions to our problems.

What I suggest is that you open your mind to new solutions by looking at each situation from a different angle. We often believe that there is only one possible solution to the problem and we focus all our energy and effort there. I’ve seen hundreds of businesses seek additional capital to solve cash flow needs when the best solution is to eliminate operational inefficiencies. Additional capital doesn’t solve the problem; it only hides it.

We often take a negative approach to problems and wonder why we have so much trouble doing the work. Instead of resenting the hurdle, view the situation as an opportunity to exercise your problem-solving skills.

Learn to re-frame problems; look at them from a different angle and see if a solution doesn’t present itself. View problems and temporary setbacks as opportunities for learning and growth. Every cloud has a silver lining. At times, it’s difficult to see the opportunity, but if you open your mind and search long enough, you’ll find it.

A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.
Sir Winston Churchill
1874 – 1965

Copyright © 2012 John Chancellor


Stuck truck — 3 Comments

  1. I needed to read this right now, as I’m feeling a little defeated. Even super positive people do feel this way every once in a while when it seems that everything is conspiring to not align!

    Although I must say, as I was reading the story and came to the part, “it looked like the only solution…” I yelled out, “why don’t they just take some air out of the tires!” 🙂

  2. Joni,

    I love how you saw the solution ahead of time. I think we all need to be very vigilant about looking for alternate solutions when we are feeling stuck.

    Thanks for commenting.


  3. Great article. Would you give me permission to put it in my workbook for a class on creative problem solving? I’d give you full credits.