What Were You Trying To Do? (Solving the right problem)

My grandfather and my younger brother were both Master Mechanics – and masters at Problem Solving. I mostly missed out on knowing my Grandpa, but I learned much from Lee.

I too have the mechanic’s itch, but lack the experience, skill and talent of a Master. So when I’d tear into my car or bike, and find myself in way over my head, I would call Lee for help; a lifeline!

Lee would come over, look at what I was tugging on or hammering at, and watch for a while. Then he’d ask a few questions as he started to putting together a mental picture of what I was trying to do, were I was at, and why I’d become stuck.

Then, inevitably, before jumping in to help, he would ask: “So, what were you trying to do?”


Too often, my response would be something like, “I’m trying to loosen this nut, but won’t it won’t budge.” Or some other quasi-technical, task-oriented frustration. Then I’d talk about how I’d already read everything I could find, scraped my knuckles, bruised my ego, and sorted through my entire tool collection looking for a solution.

Then, he’d ask me again, “So… before you got out your tools… what were you trying to do?”

Once I truly understood the question, my answers got short and simple. Something like, “I’m trying to get the caliper off so I can change the brake pads.”

And more often than not, Lee would point out that the nut I was working to remove, wasn’t going to help me do that.

Often, the place where I became intractably stuck, had absolutely no bearing on reaching my goal, EXCEPT that I was spending effort on it. All I really needed to do, to become UnStuck, was to walk away – to simply quit trying to do the thing I found impossible.

And with a simple Ah-Ha Moment, one simple redirection, Lee solved almost every impossible mechanical problem I that I ever encountered. And most times he never even got his hands dirty.

Once I understood, there was no need.


Lee’s was a very different approach to problem solving than I had learned in school.

And so it is with Print. Almost everything you’re working to accomplish with Print IS POSSIBLE. But that doesn’t mean that your current path – the one that’s beating you up today – is the best approach.

Or even that Print is the right tool.

Sometimes you need a Printer to stop by when you’re in over your head. A Printer who’s willing to watch patiently, and listen, and ask the right question.

And sometimes, ask more than once!