Am I smarter than a 14-month-old?

“I feel like Nathan,” I said, as I tried to figure out how to get the television to work.

My grandson was intrigued with the television remote controls. He picked one up and noticed that a light came on when he pushed a button. He started pushing buttons to see what would make the light go on. That is a key methodology of how our brains work – guess and check. He would take a guess and then check his results.

We have three remotes in the house; one for the television, one universal, one Firestick. I picked up the television remote and accidentally pushed a button. The television said that the receiver was off. My wife had nearly simultaneously picked up the universal remote. I began pushing buttons on the television remote to undo what I had done. It was not random, but it was not helping. Then we tried the universal remote to see if the DVR needed to be reset. After a few minutes, I was feeling rather helpless.

I do know a little about the process. I know the television has to be on the right channel. Check. I know that the input comes from the DVR. The warning on the television that the “receiver is off” did not make sense. The DVR was on. After going through multiple guess and check processes, I got the system working. My guesses were more educated than Nathan’s. That just means that I was reducing the number of buttons to push and reading the output on the screen as my checks.

Too often we get hung up on having to know everything before we try. Often action is required. We learn by doing.

However, another problem is just the opposite. We do not analyze the situation to determine what might be the best guesses. We do not reduce the possibilities. That is especially true in health care. Life is a process. Often unseen action is happening and doing nothing is what is needed. The term for that is “watchful waiting.” We can think of it as checking our guess that nothing was needed.

Someone posted in a Facebook group that she cannot get pregnant. It is a group of lay people. She got all kinds of possible remedies. To try them all will take a long time. I know that in some cases, chiropractic has helped. However, I did not say that. Instead, I commented that she was welcome to message me.

The difference between being a doctor and a lay person is similar to the difference between Nathan working on the remote and me. A lay person will give all kinds of advice. A doctor will ask questions to eliminate possibilities and reduce the number of options. My questions would have been to determine the odds of chiropractic being an answer.

Want to be smarter than a 14-month-old?

  1. Determine what outcome you desire. (Nathan wanted a red light.)
  2. Determine what actions will likely lead to that outcome. (Nathan correlated pushing a button.)
  3. Determine which of the actions are most likely to lead to the outcome.
  4. Establish your checks. (Checks might be getting you closer to the outcome – but not the outcome itself. For example, I checked to see if the DVR was on. The television continued to say that it was not.)
  5. Ask what will happen if I do nothing? (Sometimes watchful waiting is the best action.)
  6. Take action based on the above and continue to monitor and change.

Yes, I believe I am smarter than a 14-month-old. I am also smart enough to learn from one!