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Don’t Accept Brokenness

15 October 2012

For a while I had a problem with my jaw. Ten years back I got elbowed in the face (don’t ask), and since then I had trouble yawning or just opening my mouth wide open. I could try to do it, but it would result in the whole thing locking and a good deal of pain.

The first months I was annoyed, but as time passed I learned to live with it. After all, it was really nothing important. I could eat, speak and do pretty much anything normally. I accepted this as part of how my body functions. Some can’t do a right split, I can’t open my mouth that wide, who cares? I learned how to avoid doing this, and carried on.

This year I had to see a doctor regarding some unrelated issue, and I ended up mentioning this fact. She told me that she could take a look at it and, in literally a matter of seconds, she fixed the problem. It’s been a few months and while it’s still not perfect, it’s incredibly better.

In seconds a ten years problem was fixed.


Of course this got me thinking: what else is broken that I’m accepting as it is ? At first I went through all the very minor physical problem I was having and discussed it with her. While some were fixable, others were not and some could be improved.

But here’s the thing, that approach doesn’t only apply to health issues. As a matter of fact it works for pretty much everything ! When facing a problem, the easiest response is to simply accept it and deal with it… while sometimes trying to fix the problem is actually faster, requires less work and is less expensive!

Another example I could give is a door in my appartment that would require you lifting a bit the handle before being able to close it. I did that for months until one day I decided to stop for one second and look at what was going on. In ten minutes I figured it out and was able to fix it by replacing a screw or two.

These are just my examples, but for you it could be one piece of legacy code that’s always getting in your way inside your application, or this door that just won’t open without having to jiggle your keys for minutes. It could be this light that flickers a bit, or the fact that you keep on smashing your toes in the same piece of furniture.

All these are minor inconveniences, but you deal with them every day. They waste your time, build frustration, and you don’t even see it because it’s always been like that as far as you can remember!

I’m not saying that everything is fixable, because it’s not true. I’m saying you should take a minute every once in a while to ask yourself if this tiny thing really is unavoidable, if doing something to fix it wouldn’t actually be easier than dealing with it every day.

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