THE DANGER OF EXCESSIVE COMFORT AND PREDICTIBILITY
We have many worldly systems which we have access to that makes our lives easier. These systems like school, college, organizations, railway, airline, medical, supermarkets, theatre etc. and many more have made our roles within these systems very systematic, efficient, ritualistic, predictable and focused. The process is simplified to a large extent and we have predefined metrics and evaluations systems (grades, salaries, weekly reports, medical procedures) to monitor our engagements and progress. All these systems, processes and systems within them have gone through their fair share of iterations, uncertainties, bumps, failures and they have continuously polished themselves and evolved over many months, years and decades to reach a state of functioning that is almost flawless, clear, focused and refined.
Almost all of us are born into these refined nearly perfect readily consumable systems, commodities and we tend to be part of these systems throughout our lives. In course of our lives, we spend many years of our lives in schools, colleges and then in organizations. If we are sick or have an ailment, there is a systematic medical way to engage with medical facilities, hospitals etc and get the benefits where we never even had to think about (let alone worry about) the background research, hard work, planning that goes into identifying, building, innovating and maintaining all these types of operations. All these systems have navigated their way through default chaos into lean, functional, focused and efficient ways of functioning.
Our default dependency on existing systems can be a curse?
We are heavily reliant on all these systems to function throughout our lives and all these systems (with their fair share of imperfections, glitches and occasional failures) have given us the luxury of being comfortable to large extent . All we have to do is find the system (school, college, medical, entertainment) based on our needs (education, engineering, cold and fever, movies, sports, leisure , travel) and follow a laid out process and get the desired result for an exchange of value without ever having to worry about the back end and the backstories of the systems, products, services that we are using. Sure, there is work involved and there could be issues and complications, even disasters and there is always scope for improvement but we can safely assume that the overall reality is exponentially better and simpler than what could have been and what it used to be.
We are used to consuming the readily available finished product of different organizations/systems by exchanging them with currency (iphone, movies, medical care, washing machine, television, internet, roads, highways, public libraries, books etc).
You might say this is how is is supposed to be otherwise the world would be so messy. It is absolutely true, however there is a catch and there could be a cost of over dependency and how this could effect us is tricky as the effect is psychological and subconscious.
Our view of the world gets created over a period of time by the way we operate, create and consume in this world and we are creatures of habits. We become what we repeat and we get used to what we repeat. By only getting exposed to the end product, service or the readily consumable value of systems/organizations/processes as a way of life, we tend to get hypnotized into believing in a fairly effortless, predictable, refined, quick-fix oriented and nearly perfect way of living for the most part. It is usually uncommon to dig into the imperfect, faulty and often brutal realities of the backstories, beginnings of these systems, products, services, processes. We are blindfolded for the most part and never get a chance to wrap our heads around the long and messy iterative model of a system/product/service creation.And in the whole process, most of the time we aren’t even aware of how deeply this way of life is shaping our internal story which in turn is determining what we expect from ourselves and the world around us.
Without the right understanding and the environment, it is easy to end up navigating through life with a quick fix mentality, low levels of endurance, low failure/pain tolerance, being a victim, perfection paralysis and a tendency to fall apart when we hit a curve. This way of operation can lead to a perpetuating downward spiral with an ongoing feeling of lack, low self worth, low emotional intelligence and eventually a low quality of life. We start living our life as if we are entitled to something, the way people should treat us, the way things should unfold, the kind of success we should enjoy, etc., because that’s the way we have been trained, to move forward with a fixed blueprint in our minds, to expect without much at stake, to be able to predict, to expect safety and predictability, to feel in control of our lives without really striving for much, at least for the most part.
We become what we repeatedly expose ourselves to and if we aren’t aware and careful, we stand the chance of unconsciously growing soft and entitled over a period of time .It becomes easier to give our power to the outside world and the events versus turning it inside out by taking charge of what we want to accomplish with an action oriented, patient and flexible approach.
Explains why only 10% (or less) of entrepreneurs are successful. It becomes quite hard to suddenly switch mode from comfortable,defined and predictable consumption to the messy process of creating a systems from scratch where suddenly, there are too many moving pieces.
The solution might be to strike the right balance, to enjoy all that the world has to offer in the right spirit and at the same time, engage in building, trying, molding, remolding, retrying and navigating our way through the stages of an iterative model. Enjoying the finished, ready made end result must be balanced with creating, building and navigating our way through the beginning and middle stages. This kind of a contrast could potentially result in a better quality of life. Some of us might already be operating in this manner and as a result, might be seeing some of the benefits in their life, knowingly or unknowingly. But a conscious understanding of why this balance is important, is going to be the needle mover and could be one of the major factors in differentiating a good quality of life from not so good one.
Iterative evolution is the way of the world, and the concept of instant perfection on the face is backed up by long years and decades of small, tiny improvements, failures, work, reworks, will and tenacity. At all points of time knowingly or unknowingly we are standing in the shoulders of countless number of human beings and work spanning countless number of years and decades.
Let me give you another example. Let’s say you have a laptop worth 1 lac rupees (approx 1800 $). Let’s make a deal here. I am going to take away the laptop from you along with all the background historical development in computers and related technologies that eventually led to the creation of laptop, right from the first time the idea was conceived in somebody’s mind. Now, i am going to give you a 100 billion dollars instead. Do you think you can get yourself a laptop with that kind of money? With this money will you be able to facilitate that kind of a chronology that led to the development of a laptop? Easy? Difficult? Impossible? I am not saying things should be difficult but a better grasp of the reality will help us to put things in perspective and a good quality of life eventually boils down to that. Some of the lifestyle, commodities, facilities we enjoy on a day to day basis could be priceless in the true sense. The amount of abundance so many of us enjoy in the absolute sense is literally mind boggling. But with phenomenons like hedonic adaptation and biological baggage coupled with years and decades of predictability conditioning, we find ourselves in a position to instantly, thoughtlessly dismiss something of high value as insignificant. That’s the reality of the world we live in.
The way of the world by default is that of chaos, complexity and unpredictability where mistakes, failures, confusion, loss, odds being defied etc. is a commonplace and unless we expose ourselves to these realities and learn to work around them we will never come to the conclusion that these elements are merely a feedback mechanism for further refining our approach or adjust our perspective. We as a species are hardwired to navigate through all of these and find our way out but like normal muscles if we don’t exercise our emotional, mental muscles, they tend to atrophy ( and we end up making an ugly scene when the cab is late by 5 mins).
If this article resonates with you, do let me know what you think about it and don’t forget to share! Cheers :)