I remember reading one of Paul Graham’s essays going nuts. There’s no way I could keep myself from getting one of his books. Hackers and Painters was ordered right away and I still keep it with me. You can read and then re-read his essays and you’ll still find them totally relevant and moreover – inspiring.
So this weekend I was just lazing around on the web and I came across Paul’s new essay titled ‘Schlep Blindness‘. And there you go! Paul Graham nails it again. This is something I’ve personally felt and experienced, this phenomenon has been there for quite some time now. Only now we have a term for it.
For those of you who didn’t read the essay by now, here’s a primer on what the basic concept is:
“Schlep was originally a Yiddish word but has passed into general use in the US. It means a tedious, unpleasant task.”
It’s quite obvious that we all hate ‘tedious’ and ‘unpleasant’ tasks. Over the years, the part of our brain that kicks off laziness gets highly active and refrains us from using the other side of the brain. It’s during this phase that we choose to do stuff that would be easier to finish off.
Paul further states that:
“The most dangerous thing about our dislike of schleps is that much of it is unconscious. Your unconscious won’t even let you see ideas that involve painful schleps. That’s schlep blindness.”
The phenomenon isn’t limited to startups. Most people don’t consciously decide not to be in as good physical shape as Olympic athletes, for example. Their unconscious mind decides for them, shrinking from the work involved.
And that’s how our mind tends to work. We decide unconsciously not to remain in a good shape, every single time you call up Domino’s or Pizza Hut your body sends a this-is-not-good-for-you signal to the brain but it wouldn’t stop. It’s not that it doesn’t know it, it just chooses to remain immune.
So how do we get over this horrifying problem? Paul states that ignorance could be a simple solution to this. If you knew the hurdles you might have to come across while achieving your goals, you might not even start working towards finishing the task. The idea is to get going to try not to think of the problems that you think may arise. You know they will but you’ve got to take them head on.