Ever wonder why dirt on the walk way irks your soul but others just hop past it? Or the sight of a child hawking on the streets chips away at your heart but some other grownup feels comfortable sending that child who’s supposed to be in school on an errand? Well, we don’t all see problems the same way no matter how glaring it may appear.

We identify problems based on where we live, how we were groomed, our level of education & exposure and our genetics amongst other things. The reason you see a particular problem is because it is unique to you.

Reminds me of the time in university when a truth dawned on me. I studied Geography at the Federal University of Technology Minna. Being a technology university, Geography was taught more as a science and less like a social science course. We had 2 specialization options to choose from in our 300 – 500 level, metrology and remote sensing. It just so happened that the students who chose the Metrology option often got the top 5 GPAs every semester even though their courses weren’t easier, they completely dominated in general courses as well, I was silently pained! The only student with a first class CGPA was also from the Metrology option. I was in Remote Sensing in case you missed it.

Semester after semester I’d grumble at the result board saying “these remote sensing people no dey try” like I wasn’t one of them 🤭. I always did exempt myself from the rule because I never thought that I’d use my university degree and I assumed I’d graduate with a second class upper regardless (I was wrong about the result 😁). In the 1st semester of 400 level I had a 3.2 ish cgpa and it dawned on me that my casual second class upper wasn’t going to happen so casually, I actually had to put in the work to climb back up. That semester I did everything right that I knew how to do as a student, I went to class early, I left the back seats and sat in front, I asked and answered questions in class, I took notes, I read before and after most classes, and a whole lot of stuff!

That was the beginning of my extra sheet spree during exams, there wasn’t a paper I wrote that semester that I didn’t use extra answering sheets. There was one particular paper where I used double extra sheets, as I signaled from behind that I needed another extra sheet, the exam supervisor said “don’t waste our paper, it’s not your type that collects extra sheet” 🤣…it was funny oh, I had to beg for paper to finish my work.

Fast forward to the day the results were released, I was the 3rd in the department that semester and 1st in the Remote Sensing option with a 4.3ish gp. Remember that course I requested double extra sheets? I was the only one that scored an A in the course. As I stared at the result board, it hit me – I am best equipped to solve the problems I identify…and the same may be true for you. It applies in love, family, and the workplace, everywhere!

It’s possible to misidentify problems…some problems are skewed because of our world view. I mean, the senators in Nigeria think that social media is one of the biggest problems in the country when over 50% of its population is grossly poor 🤷🏽‍♂️.

There are 2 groups of problems that we identify, personal problems like being broke and societal problems that affect other people like bad governance in Nigeria. It’s important to distinguish when we’re addressing a problem for ourselves and for others. A selfish person or business will always identify narrow problems and that’s not always a bad thing, it’s just important to know which problem you’re solving. A larger problem I’m more personally disturbed by is when people act like they’re solving a problem for others but are really solving their personal problems, leading to situations where leaders steal public funds for personal use.

The best problems are unique to you but help others or at least inspires them in some way. When next you’re in a dilemma or want some personal or business questions answered, remember that the answers are in the problems you can identify.

  1. You really don’t look like someone that collects extra sheets . The supervisor must have been very worried.

    This is food for thought though. Real food for thought. Thanks for this.

  2. Awesome read!!!… Few days ago I was sharing with the maintenance team and colleagues at work on how we most times would keep thinking the problem instead of the solution. Often when confronted with a challenge, the first thing we see/think is the problem itself, constraints and excuses. Thanks for putting up this amazing write up, it is a indeed a great read

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