Wednesday, June 17, 2015

A Problem Solved is Better than No Problem

I drove with the boys from SF to Stinson Beach a few days ago. It was the first time just the four of us were together in the car in a while... And the bonus was that rather than a mile, we were together for 20! So what did we talk about? We spoke about how solved problems can be better than no problems. Two recent kitesurfing incidents illustrate this...

The first incident occurred when I arrived to the Crissy Field parking lot and remotely opened my car's trunk. My foilboard was leaning on the tailgate and slid out of the car, fell to the floor and cracked. Now, cracking my only foilboard would normally be a major problem. Yet, with the help of my friends I solved the problem so seamlessly I ended up happier than if nothing had happened. I won't bore you with all the details, but one friend helped me patch the board so that I could kite that day; another friend took the board to the boardmaker and brought me a loaner board the next day, so that I didn't miss a single day of kiting; and the boardmaker brought me the perfectly repaired board a couple of days later, and only charged me $25.

The second incident took place a few days later. I was flying a foil kite. Foil kites don't have a solid (inflatable) structure so sometimes they can't be relaunched from the water. When that happens at Crissy Field and we are not close to shore we must call the Coast Guard for a rescue. Well, I dropped my kite pretty far from shore (almost by the Golden Gate bridge) and it twisted so that it was impossible for me to relaunch it. I was about to call the Coast Guard from my VHF radio when one of my friends, who had been kiting nearby to keep an eye on me, kited to my kite, untwisted it and helped me relaunch it. It took an incredible amount of skill for him to do that - not to mention the willingness to tangle with my kite or drop his.

After both incidents I was ecstatic. Super happy that things had turned out so well - and in much better spirits than if nothing at all had happened. We discussed the possible causes for this. One was definitely the social component: due to the incidents several friends helped me. It feels good to know you have friends who care about you! But that aside, the "high" from solving a problem seems to more than offset the "low" of the problem itself,

What is the take-away? Create problems? Probably not. But how about "take risks". If things go well, you get the benefits. If things go badly, you might still end-up better off after you solve the problem.

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