Thursday, October 9, 2014

Maximum Return with Minimum Effort- Quick Fix

 A couple of months ago, a person named Richey called and asked me for an appointment to speak to me; he wanted to get some psychological help. He came at the scheduled time. He sat in front of me before telling why he wanted to meet me. First, he told me that he had come from Gulf and he would be here for ten days. He needed to go to several places and attend to some work in the bank along with having to attend a few family functions.
I wanted to focus on the issues that bothered him and how I could help him. I just interrupted and asked him ‘how can I help you?’ He continued his story and stated that he had a very short leave from my work. Within the short span of time he needed to go for a treatment for which he has come from Gulf. He has been suffering from severe headache for three years.  He added that one doctor had advised him to meet a Psychologist and then a Neurologist. That is how he had called me. Now he needed my help to overcome this problem and that he had just a few days leave. Therefore he wanted me to suggest something that will work for him and provide quick relief. He further informed me that he is also supposed to meet a Neurologist seeking relief for the same problem.
  This is the common tendency of human beings now days we are in a Quick Fix Mentality.  When I asked Richey, he tried all the techniques to cure his headache for three years. Yet nothing worked!! There have been moments of relief along the way but after some time   the problem became worse. I found that he tried to target the symptoms without addressing the root or cause reveling in its temporary relief. When he feels little relief either he will stop or if the treatment technique requires more effort he will quit and start the new technique.
Richey ended up with four months treatment for his headache. The Neurologist’s diagnosis was that he removes the myelin sheath through a surgery from the nerve of the lower part of the brain.
As the problem was a little severe at that point of time since it had not been diagnosed in the early stage; there were many side effects like inability to walk and talk. Doctor suggested that he undergoes surgery as early as possible.  Since he was also in a hurry to fix his problem, he agreed and the surgery was done.
However, due to his anxiety and fear, it took a long time for him to recover from the problem. The Doctor who had done the surgery was surprised to see Richey’s slow recovery (which normally takes less than 40 days for the person to recover).
When it comes to chasing instant result Richey is not alone.  In every walk of life from medicine and relationships to business and politics, we are all hooked on the quick fix solution. We all look for short cuts- what is known as the ‘Quick fix’ mentality. Today the ‘quick fix’ mentality has become the standard across the board in our fast forward, demanding and just –add- water culture.
 If you turn the pages of the news paper in the morning, your eyes just gets locked in the advertisement with sedative promises of maximum return for minimum effort. Lose your weight in five days! Buy this educational DVD that helps your child to become genius, work for an hour from home and earn thousands in every month.  We are all trying to solve our problems in a hurry what Carl Honore refers it ‘sticking on a plaster when surgery is needed’ might deliver temporary reprieve but usually at the price of shortening up worse trouble for later. The hard unpalatable truth is that the quick fix never truly fixes anything at all sometime it makes things worse.
I believe lately, people are obsessed with this quick fix even though there are many examples in front of them who took the quick and easy way and the policy of maximum return in minimum effort; but are struggling to come back to the normal life (IPL fixing, corruption cheating cases). So nature has a law. Since we are all part of nature, if we go against nature or try to break the rule of nature we have to pay for it.
There are many historical examples of short cut which cut short them.  In politics, war or in the business policy one who used quick fix for a problem which required a thoughtful decision has failed and they had to pay more than what is expected. Richey is none other than the sample population in the society.
When we look into the evolution of this quick fix Peter Whybrow in his book “American Mania” explains; Human brain has two basic mechanisms for solving problems-which are commonly called System 1 and system 2. According to him the evolution of human problem solving skills and tendencies are quick for our ancestors. His explanation system 1 is the fast and institutive almost like thinking without thinking when we see the dog chasing, our brain maps out the best escape route and send us hurtling towards it Quick fix.
System 2 is slow and deliberate. It is the conscious thinking that we do when we are asked to calculate 28 times 18 or analyze the possible side- effects of a new social policy. It involves planning, critical analysis and rational thoughts. Also, it is driven by parts of the brain that continue to develop after birth and into adolescence. Thus, system 2 consumes more energy.
Evolution matches with system1. Early men ate when hungry, drank when thirsty and slept when tired. There was no tomorrow. Survival depends on what you did each day. Hence inherited brain focuses on short term solutions and rewards us for pursuing them.
Now in a complex post industrial world, system2 should be the king. I am not advocating that quick fix is bad or that each problem needs to be solved slowly. We live in the society where tomorrow also equally important. We are like expecting Christ Gayle to hit six for every ball after he scored a record score at Bangalore!  I remember Samuel Johnson quote “we let hope triumph over experience”.
These days hurry is our answer to every problem and even in life, we walk fast talk fast read fast, eat fast make love fast and think fast. This is the century of speed in everything including building relationships and parting from the same. As Carl Honore says, “we are ignoring the golden rule of seven Ps: Prior Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Performance”. We are in a hurry to get rich fast. We are in a hurry to cure our problems fast. We are addicted to eating fast food and we are in a hurry to eat already baked food instead of baking it and eating. However, all this may lead to the cutting our life short.
The ‘quick fix’ is sometimes the wrong choice to solve a problem. No algorithm has ever helped solve the global issues. No quickly made choice has ever turned around a life. No drug has ever cured a chronic illness; No educational DVD has ever transformed a child into a baby Einstein. We tend to throw money for everything to solve problems. Expecting instant miracle relief from any problem is against the law of the nature. There is no right or wrong attitude towards ‘quick fix’. It is a matter of choice whether you live a relaxed or ‘quickened’ life style.
The real trouble nowadays is that no one wants to wait for anything anymore. Before the question is understood, we decide the answer. Nature always works with a principle. We need to respect it. Our needs and expectation need to match with the nature’s law rather than depend on the quick fix mentality.

Madhusoodana Sunnambala

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