2.08: Problem? Fix It. On The Virtue Of Slowing Down For Understanding: The Relationships And Patterns Of Fix-It Mode

For episode eight of season two, Tim and Tuesday talk about the fix-it phenomenon we all share: on seeing a problem, we rush to fix it. But when we rush to solutions, we’re likely to repeat the very problems that gave us the challenge in the first place. How can we cultivate a new pattern of pause and examination?


Together, Tim Merry and Tuesday Ryan-Hart are THE OUTSIDE—systems change and equity facilitators who bring the fresh air necessary to organize movements, organizations, and collaborators forward for progress, surfacing new mindsets for greater participation and shared impact.

2.08 —— SHOW NOTES

  • Tues: When we feel the problem is urgent, it is much harder for us to wait. The good intention of problem —> fix feels like a generous, well-intended response to something that has urgency.
  • Tim: ‘Problem, fix it’ is not inherently bad (i.e. when in a crisis response). The idea that ‘problem, fix it’ makes good leadership is so pervasive in the places we are working… that’s the issue. On its own ‘problem, fix it’ is insufficient. We need better understandings before we act.
  • Tues: We’ve started to respond to everything as a crisis. Part of the discernment is what are we actually in here? That pause before you act is where the possibility will come. This has been rich in my own life practice.
  • Tim: This is a leadership practice. Otto Scharmer, out of MIT, has developed “U-Theory.” It has gained traction and it’s an archetypal process it takes people through. It journeys you through the “U” and I think we can all relate to it. What Tues and Otto are both describing is about pulling us out of the urgent into the important. Pulling us out of the day-to-day, hamster wheel, business as usual to say what a minute, what is actually important?
  • Tues: What we know about shifting approaches is it requires you to let go of some things – beliefs, assumptions, etc. This requires a whole lot of work, thought, practice and understanding.
  • Tim: If you are the ‘problem, fix it’ hero leader, every time you step in and solve people’s problems for them, you remove their ability to solve it themselves. I feel we [The Outside] are a real antidote to that. Answers are out of date so quickly. Inquiries will last you. What happens when we work in this way, is that your decisions become more considered; they do not become easier. We don’t opt for the easy answer, we engage with the nuance.
  • Tues: ‘Problem, wait/pause’ takes courage. Wishing people courage to try it out and see where it lands them.


Poem: “…is God.” from A Book of Light, by Lucille Clifton



having no need to speak

You sent Your tongue

splintered into angels.

even I, 

with my little piece of it

have said too much.

to ask You to explain

is to deny You.

before the word

You were.

You kiss my brother mouth.

the rest is silence.


Song: Landslide by Tony Clarke


Subscribe to the podcast now—in Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher or anywhere else you find podcasts. New episodes will be available every second Tuesday. If you’d like to get in touch with us about something you heard on the show, reach us at podcast@findtheoutside.com.


Find the song we played in today’s show—and every song we’ve played in previous shows—on the playlist. Just search ‘Find the Outside’ on Spotify.


Duration: 37:15

Produced by: Mark Coffin @ Sound Good Studios

Theme music: Gary Blakemore

Episode cover image: source

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