I’d gotten a new laptop not long ago. I’d cross-checked my specific needs with price ranges and computer-selling sources and came to a final purchase decision. Then I packed up my digital files and moved them to their new home, hopeful that things would work smoothly – and faster.
I was glad to get this done. Everything seemed to be working fine, except I discovered one big problem when a project came in that I needed to proofread. When I made a comment in the PDF file to correct a typo, I discovered that my name in the comment box was spelled “Minni.” This was the start of a 48-hour journey to figure out what was wrong and how to get it right. Because it was far too disorienting for me to tolerate making proofreading comments with my name misspelled.
It turns out, as I set up my laptop, Microsoft created a user folder with the first five letters of my email address. This is what they do, and changing the name of that folder, looks like, is a huge ordeal. So, here’s how I started looking at things:
“This is a problem for everyone.” If Microsoft has created defaults where people can’t control how their names appear, this would be a problem for millions of people. If this is a problem for millions of people, Microsoft (or a bunch of tech people) would have instructions on how to correct this issue that is bothering me so much, and I would be able to find these instructions in Google.
The most I could find, however, were a few very complicated instructions dating back more than a year. That is the evidence, to me, that this is not a problem for everyone.
“This is a problem only for me.” If this is a problem only for me, what that means in technical terms is: I am the source of the problem. Whenever I seek technical help that is not answered in the FAQs, it often ends as a local issue – a user error. Or, as I discovered, I have some kind of needless expectation, which led me to the possibility that…
“This is not a problem.” That was the most interesting idea of all, and the one I finally explored. Clearly, I don’t want my name misspelled in my documents, but what if the folder name is not a problem at all? That has to be the answer, and it was… because I realized inside Adobe Acrobat Reader, I could change the spelling of my name. I didn’t have to stick with the default.
So much about creative pursuits is about solving problems. how do I present this idea, what materials do I use, how do I keep costs down, how do I fine-tune, etc., etc., etc. The best way to solve a problem, however, is to recognize that it isn’t actually a problem.
Minnie Lamberth is a marketing copywriter and shares creative encouragement through her Story Shaping platform.