One of my mentors says that we live in a culture where people focus on solving effects of problems, not causes.
First: what does this mean?
A great example of this is when you have a physical injury. Most people treat an injury at the site of the injury, without ever addressing the factors that created the injury.
If you have a headache, you may take a painkiller instead of investigating what causes your headache.
This principle applies beyond the physical body. It exists in every context — from dysfunction in your business to the challenges we face as a society.
Second: why do we tend to try to solve effects rather than causes?
There are many reasons behind this. Let’s look at one of those reasons: solving causes takes time.
(1) Time to Investigate the Real Problem
It takes time to investigate the source or cause of the problem. When someone presents with an issue that feels obvious on its face, why would you dig deeper?
What’s the real problem? What’s the cause of the problem?
Few practitioners, experts, coaches, or consultants are willing to take the time to investigate the thing beneath the thing.
Most are eager to rush through to get to the next patient, the next client.
Practitioners fear if they don’t pack their schedule full of clients, they won’t earn enough money. They also fear that clients will become impatient during the process and abandon them.
It’s easier to offer the quick fix, and more palatable to most clients, patients, or consumers.
(2) Time to Unpack the Cause
We live in an era where everyone craves instant results. Everyone wants to identify the problem, address it quickly, and move on. Unfortunately, that approach doesn’t create lasting change and improvement.
The cause of a problem is often buried under an interconnected chain of events. To address the cause, we must unpack the chain and uproot the process until we find the origination point. Things often get “worse” before they get better.
It’s like cleaning out your closet: you must dump everything out to sort through it. It gets messy before it gets clean.
Many consumers — clients, patients, customers — don’t want to invest the time for this process. They fear “losing time” and “falling behind” where they “should” be. They want the quickest and cleanest solution to their problem.If a band-aid will work, that’s “good enough for now.”
(3) Time to Recondition the Response
The actual cause of the problem often traces back to a conditioned movement pattern or pattern of response — also known as a Habit. This habitual pattern is deeply engrained — often so engrained that we don’t even realize it. (This is why it takes time to identify and address it).
It’s not enough to heal an injury if you don’t also change the habitual pattern that led to the injury in the first place.
Unfortunately, there’s no quick shortcut to this. Breaking engrained patterns (habits) and reconditioning new patterns is hard. It takes time, and a lot of trial and error.
Whatever the problem is, guaranteed that it developed over time. That’s how you will undo it: over time.
There’s no shortcut to this work. If you want to create lasting change, you’ve got to put in the time.