Admiring the Problem

Kristina Ralston
4 min readMar 1, 2020

I love how this expression captures the way so many of us operate! When faced with a challenging situation that asks more than we think or know we can do, we lean away to create space (distance?) for ourselves. Instead of being focused on what we can do, we admire the problem. We talk about the problem, analyze every angle of the problem, cultivate a well-reasoned and logical opinion on the problem, and become an expert in the problem.

But…we don’t actually do anything. We talk, offer suggestions, talk some more, raise questions and concerns, keep talking…at this point, we know the problem so intimately that we know its blood type and could post a convincing online dating profile, but have no real idea what steps we need to take to solve it (cue more talking…about what? oh, wait…the problem).

Why do we prefer to admire problems rather than solve them? I think we aren’t comfortable putting ourselves out there to solve problems because we risk being exposed, vulnerable, and susceptible to criticism and analysis by others who have chosen the path of admiration over action. It’s fucking hard to stand up and say to a bunch of admiring-the-problemers, This is the next step and I’m taking it.

If you are a person of action, you know that by taking a step forward, you’ll draw immediate criticism. Because how dare you stop admiring the problem? That’s what we do, man; we talk ad nauseam about things, take pictures of things and post them on social media, and have countless meetings about things. Anything to avoid the actual (and often self-reflective) work needed to solve something that has by now caused a massive undertow of mental swirl and churn that threatens to sweep us out to sea, lost forever in the tides of analysis paralysis.

How do we go from admiration to action? Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Keep it simple: There’s a great saying that applies here: don’t try to boil the ocean. Once we start putting energy behind solving something, other needs, ideas, and more problems will surface. This is unavoidable. And some of that stuff probably does need to be looked at and solved. However, that is not our focus at the moment. Noting it for now is sufficient.
  • What do you want? If the problem is solved, what will things look like? Here’s where dreaming and…



Kristina Ralston

Change strategist and leadership coach. Let’s change the conversation around change, together. Find out how at: