This particular Garfism seems so simple that I sometimes wonder if it is even necessary! However, my experience is that it is often very normal for somebody to try and advocate a solution to a listener who does not recognize the problem let alone put much concern into the problem. As an example, I have mentioned in the past that I am 82 years old, and live in a retirement community. I have been very fortunate to establish a strong relationship and friendship with an individual who was a counselor for 30 years before he retired.
Some time ago, he asked me to review a lecture he was preparing. He started out by quoting a number of reports from the American Journal of Psychology. He then turned to me and said “Garf what do these quotations mean to you”. My answer was “George, they are interesting reading but quite frankly I don’t see how this currently relates to me.” He instantly responded with “Garf, don’t you realize that this is the answer to something that creates great pain for many individuals. They often live in self-doubt, they are concerned about what other people may think of them, they are not free to allow themselves to maximize their potential. These reports offer solutions to liberating any self-doubts you might have about yourself.”
Suddenly, he had truly aroused my interest. Everyone including myself has from time to time had the problem of being hampered from maximizing our true potential, because we may be too concerned, and sometimes insecure, about what others may think of us. Now, I was eager to hear a solution. I asked him to, once again, review his lecture, and explain how those reports might be a key solution to liberating one’s self. Now, that I was acutely aware of a problem, I was hungry for a solution.
Of course, being the consummate teacher, I had to explain to him that his lecture would be far more powerful if he got the audience to accept this substantial problem, and then be eager to hear a solution. This bright intelligent man looked at me and said – “ that’s very interesting, the problem should precede the solution?”