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The Best Way Out of a Problem

An old farmer had plowed around a large rock in one of his fields for years. He had broken several plowshares and a cultivator on it. After breaking another plowshare one fall, and remembering all the trouble the rock had caused him through the years, he finally determined to do something about it. When he put his crowbar under the rock, he was surprised to discover that it was only about six inches thick and that he could break it up easily.

As he was carting it away he had to smile, remembering all the trouble that the rock had caused him and how easy it would have been to get rid of it sooner. There is often a temptation to bypass small obstacles when we’re in a hurry to get a large problem solved. We simply don’t want to stop and take the time to deal with it now. Like the old farmer, we “plow” around it.

Usually we tell ourselves that we’ll come back to it later. What often happens is that we never do. If the obstacle is of a type that will keep reappearing over and over, we’re usually better off to take the time to fix it and be done with it. If we are tempted to go round it time and time again, we had best stop and ask ourselves if the cost in time and money and trouble is worth it. As someone once said, “The best way out of a problem is through it.”

Bits and Pieces, August, 1989