Why Hard Things are Hard2024-06-10

Sometimes the hardest things in life, are the things most worth doing. It's because we haven't figured them out yet, doesn't mean we won’t.

Richard Castle

A problem may be intrinsically hard, like going to Mars, or revolutionizing the practice of medicine, or treating “treatment-resistant” patients. Or the extrinsic approaches used to solve it need to be improved. That is an issue of time, quantity, and fit.

In terms of time, it may be too early to address a particular problem, or more persistence is needed, or you are addressing it late.

In terms of quantity, too little effort and resources have been used, or too much effort, and you need to dial things down for smoother sailing.

In terms of fit, the approach and tools you are using are the right ones or the wrong ones for that problem. Learn and adjust your steering and sails. For example, in psychiatry, giving a patient a trial of the right dose of an SSRI for the right duration of time will not work (and could make things worse), if it is the wrong medication, for the wrong diagnosis/patient. Start with fit if you can, then optimize quantity and time.

Periodically (re-)assessing fit, quantity, and time, makes problems more solvable, even hard ones, or at least explains why you are encountering challenges. Think, learn, adapt. Apply this to all your endeavors!