Are You Plagued With Solomon’s Paradox?

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Hosted by
Maria Laurin

I asked the question in the title, does Solomon’s Paradox plague you? Spoiler alert, I bet you are! When I first heard of this concept, I thought it was hilarious that I could not see it for what it was. It makes perfect sense that we all struggle with this at some point in our lives.

Scientist Igor Grossman discovered the phenomenon that “people reason more wisely about other people’s social problems than about their own” He named this discovery Solomon’s Paradox. You see, King Solomon is not only known for being the king of Israel, and for building the first Temple in Jerusalem, he is equally well known for his wisdom. Ironically, Solomon was plagued with making poor personal decisions. So how is it that you can be infamously known for your sage advice yet be a hot mess in your own life? Easy, it boils down to proximity. Let me explain.

Take a close look at the dilemmas that trouble you. I’m sure if you carefully studied your actions, and the way that you resolve your problems, your solutions would look completely different from the advice that you would prescribe your friend struggling with the same issues. You can find Solomon’s Paradox in everything from business advice that we give but don’t take, to personal advice that we easily dish out, but can’t swallow ourselves. Hollywood has made a fortune on this little paradox. The main character is generally plagued with a decision to make that we all know the solution, yet it’s never a clear answer to the onscreen actor. We see it all around us in books, our personal lives, and in our business.

Let’s take a look at one of the biggest pitfalls that we all tend to fall into as a creative business owner who cannot niche down our business.
Oddly enough, you may have heard this a million times and yet felt that it didn’t apply to you, or maybe you’ve recognized the unstructured, chaotic feel that another store has because they offer too much, but you’ve not niched down in your store. This is a prime example of Solomon’s Paradox at work.

In episode 27, when I interviewed Nancy about her digital business, she commented on being too general with the products or services you offer. I’ve heard it said before that the “riches are in the niches” and I couldn’t agree more. Yet, you may find it hard to cast a single line when it seems like you’ll catch more fish with a bigger net. The truth is that our clients are no different than we are, and they too prefer a narrower offering. Let me give you an example.

Solomons paradox

Imagine making a quick trip to your favorite store to buy groceries, fruit in particular. Unfortunately, when you arrive, the produce department now offers everything from a few pairs of socks to frozen meats, baby bottles, and shampoo. I imagine that the shopping trip would be frustrating for you, the shopper, and would also yield fewer sales for that store. That is the same feeling that our customers have when they have too many unrelated options to sort through in our shops. Some of the most beautiful online stores that I have ever visited sell only one product. It may come in several variations, but they are bold enough to say, “this is what we do, and we’re dedicated to being good at selling only this.” This one product approach by no means means that the store owner isn’t capable of doing other things, or making different products; it merely means that they will keep it simple. Although it feels counterintuitive, give niching down a try. I’m sure you’ll find success in it.

Solomon's paradox

Have you ever seen an item that was so inexpensive that you wondered, what’s the catch? Maybe a friend showed you a project that she just completed and then told you the price, and it seemed way too low? That’s the real struggle of pricing! I know this is another touchy subject, but it is easy to recognize when others are not pricing their products correctly, yet we tend to struggle with pricing our pieces at their actual price. When I first started selling jewelry, I, too, had an apologetic approach to setting my prices. What made me feel a lot better was doing a little market research and finding similar products and selling mine at a comparable price. Finding a formula and sticking to those numbers will help you be more consistent with your pricing. So what does that have to do with Solomon’s Paradox? Adding a formula between you and your products will give you the distance needed to be objective. It turns out that the most significant reason we are unable to follow our advice is that we are too emotionally tied to a situation. We are emotionally invested in a way that we are not when we are analyzing a friend’s dilemma. Adding a formula, looking at comparable prices, or even asking a friend’s recommendation gives us the ability to take a step back and approach pricing from that angle.

So what’s the best way to tackle this paradox? I suggest taking a step back and giving yourself the space to look at the picture with a wide-angle lens. Imagine a trusted friend asking you for advice on the same situation that you’re struggling with. What advice would you give them in return? Take a look at the whole picture. Take a pragmatic approach instead of having an emotional reaction. And if you’re on the other side watching tragedy unfold, listen to these wise words “A smart person learns from his mistakes, but a truly wise person learns from the mistakes of others.”

I’m sure we’ve all heard the saying “do as I say, not as I do” or if you grew up in a home where English was not your first language like me…maybe this is your first time hearing this. Sayings like this one and so many others were new to me until much later in life.
I’m amazed at how many of these sayings I’ve never heard of before, or I completely misheard. Luckily between my husband and two kids, I get to experience the joy of being corrected with a side of laughter! So what does “do as I say not as I do” have in common with today’s topic? It’s precisely what Solomon’s Paradox is all about. Being able to dish out good advice, but not wanting to take it yourself. If you take the few steps mentioned regarding proximity and your lens, I’m sure you’ll soon be wise in your advice-giving and your decision making!

Well, there you have it, my friend, a bit of sound advice from a recovering Solomon’s Paradox sufferer. I want to thank you for tuning in to my podcast and for leaving a review. I really appreciate it and love to read your messages, emails, and comments. If you have a handmade business that you would like to recommend, fill out a brief questionnaire here on this site. And don’t be shy about submitting your own story. I would love to feature you and your journey. I’ll see you next ti

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