Seth Godin recently had a post about “bear shaving” – dealing with symptoms while ignoring the real issue. Seth defined bear shaving as “the efforts we go to do deal with the symptoms of a problem instead of addressing the cause of the problem” and gave some great business examples.
Certainly there are times to deal with symptoms – because sometimes failing to deal with the symptoms will be disastrous. However, if you only deal with the symptoms nothing changes and the problem will just get worse. Still, even when it helps, time and energy put into symptom relief are time and energy not used to deal with the real issue.
I suspect we as men are prone to bear shaving when we know something needs to be done but have no idea what. Doing anything makes us look busy and feel better, but if what we’re doing isn’t addressing the real issue good feelings are an illusion that won’t last.
Maybe we’d all do well to occasionally stop and check to see if we’re shaving a bear.