Solve-ation

“Don’t get frustrated about the problems, get excited about the solutions.”

I call that Sabrina’s Law.  I don’t think Sabrina — often known as TBB on this blog — invented it, but she sure as heck took it on as her own mission statement.

When she was at the head of Southern Comfort Conference, for example, she loved it when people complained to her about this or that.

“There should be a meeting for people like me,” they would say, or “You can do the parties in a better way.”

“That’s a great idea!” Sabrina would enthuse.  “Thank you for volunteering to make that happen!”

These transpeople were used to being fobbed off, ignored or dismissed, so when Sabrina empowered them to actually roll up their sleeves and do something, even if they did it in high-heels, it was a transformative moment.

Sabrina loves solutions.  That’s one reason she can get a bit frustrated by deep analysts like me who tend to dive deeply rather than getting on with it.   Now, she has seen me offer powerful expressions and seen me create great solutions, but she does tend to prefer it when I offer resolutions over emotive description.

When we come to the table with a solution based mentality we have to let go of our victim hood, of any sense that “they” have responsibility to fix it while we just get to complain.   Solutions demand an “us” viewpoint, a commitment to working together to create imperfect, compromised but still functional better ways.

Any engineer will tell you that there is no perfect solution, only a set of trade-offs that help address the issue.   The best we can hope for is a kind of elegance, a merging of innovative thinking and simplicity that makes sense and offers a platform for further improvement.

The role of the problem solver, rather than the role of just the complainer, is always the role of the parent.   Somebody has to get food on the table, pay the bills, kiss away hurts and plan for a better future.

Sabrina knew that very early, so she always did her part, starting with her kids, including her job and even in trans spaces, even when others didn’t know how to value her quest for exciting new solutions, when they wanted compliance and submission.

Taking responsibility for creating exciting new solutions is hard especially because it demands that we challenge those who are comfortable with the way things are, those who are invested in the status quo and those who would rather bitch than jump into the mess and fix things.

To take responsibility we have to be willing to lead, not just follow, have to be willing to have our own assumptions and expectations confronted, have to be willing to fail a bit to learn what we need for success.   You can’t be excited about new and better solution without the ability to leap in, take a shot then get up and try again.   This may leave you looking silly or vulnerable, but it also leaves you with wisdom and pride, with a powerful sense of agency and empowerment.

There are a wide, wide, wide range of problems in this world, none of which come with simple, easy or rapid solutions.   It’s easy to sit eating a plate of fish tacos at the Rathskeller listing all the failures, pointing out how it seems futile to dream of Utopian solutions that will never, ever come true.   Perfection is impossible.

Better, though, is always possible.   Even a little bit better can make a big difference, to one child, one individual, one ship, one bit of the ocean, as Sabrina knows.  Change is always incremental, always evolutionary, always grounded in the creative use of the possible and not in pipe dreams of the idealized.

“Don’t get frustrated about the problems, get excited about the solutions.”

Staying focused enough to persevere even while pushing though all the resistance, details and other crap that come with change is always hard.  That’s why we have to be excited about the possibilities, making milestones of every small change and spreading the vision with enthusiasm and exuberance.

That big, forward energy is something else Sabrina is good at.   She not only sees and nurtures the possibilities around her, she encourages others in believing that they, too, can step up and make a difference.   Her excitement about better solutions sparks and drives those around her, making her a powerful force for positive change.

When you feel small and powerless it’s easy just to wave your arms and demand some kind of sweeping change.   Doing the hard, dirty scut work to create solutions that will actually work,  solutions that demand negotiation, compromise, failure and resetting doesn’t sound like fun.   Actually seeing the fruits of your labour, getting respect, achieving agency and credibility, leaving you with pride and satisfaction is worth it, though.

The kind of discipline which creates precision is the effort that can leave you excited about solutions that go beyond the expected, the conventional and the routine to make things better.

“Don’t get frustrated about the problems, get excited about the solutions.”

It’s what Sabrina does.

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