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Slow & Fast Problems

Q: If it’s bad, why don’t we fix it?
A: Because many of the problems that go unresolved are “slow”.

When you fall off a ladder and break an arm, it’s very apparent. The bone is bent in a place it shouldn’t be, and it hurts immediately.  That’s a fast problem.  The pain of not dealing with it hits you quickly.

When you smoke cigarettes it negatively affects your health, causing cancer and other diseases, all of which are worse than a broken arm, but it takes years. That’s a slow problem.  The pain of not dealing with it doesn’t hit you for a long time. Often, we don’t even realize it’s a problem.

In life we’re faced with problems all the time, some of them “fast”, some of them “slow”. Because of the apparent nature of the “fast” problems, we tend to solve those more quickly and we push the “slow” problems to the back burner where they sometimes never get addressed. 

While this behavior is understandable, I’d caution you that the slow problems we ignore today have much costly consequences later down the road. Don’t just optimize to solve your fast problems, but look for things that aren’t easily detectable that will become significant problems in your future.

Actionable Question: What slow problem(s) am I ignoring because the pain isn’t immediate? 

-Andrew Nemeth