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PANACEAS - by TimBryce

I have seen a lot in my +30 years in the Information Technology field, everything from mainframes, minis, PC's, to the latest line of gadgets we seem to be enamored with. I've also met a lot of people in this industry, everything from serious professionals who made noteworthy contributions to charlatans peddling the latest line of snake oil. It's this last group that disturbs me though. True, there has been some very nice technology introduced to help expedite programming and systems development, but I find most people are suckered by those that promise speedy results at a fraction of the current price. It's interesting how people take the bait, get reeled in by the vendor, and wonder what hit them when they end up in the boat.

I don't believe I.T. people are alone in this regard. If you watch late night infomercials, most try to seduce our primal weaknesses, specifically health, sex, and greed. Bottom-line, they are telling us, "Don't sweat, take the path of least resistance." For example, we all know that in order to lose weight we need to watch what we eat, and get some exercise, but that sounds a lot harder than taking some diet pill or compound. The same is true in finances where we need to maximize our income and minimize our expenses. Instead we have a lot of self-proclaimed gurus offering to show us their secret way to making millions, for a nominal charge of course. I always ask, "If these guys are so smart, why are they letting us in on their little secret?" They may very well have been successful with something but what makes you think you will be able to emulate their success? I suspect their answer requires a life changing experience of major proportions and if you cannot make the change, well I guess that's just too bad for you. I notice none of these people offer money-back guarantees.

I think this "Take the easy way out" mentality says a lot about our gullibility. Somebody's got to be taking the bait, otherwise these infomercials would have disappeared a long time ago. This eternal quest for the golden bullet is tied to our childhood belief in such things as comic book heroes, the tooth fairy and the Easter bunny. For example, consider the millions made on movies such as "Superman," "Batman," "Spiderman," "The Matrix," "Star Wars," etc. All touch a nerve with the public who honestly hope and dream to emulate such characters. It's kind of scary when some people cannot distinguish between reality and pure fantasy. Yet, isn't this what the charlatans are peddling?

No Virginia, there is no panacea, everything requires some sort of hard work to see something come to fruition. Sorry. I remember when Bruce Lee, the legendary martial artist, made it big in Hollywood. Everybody thought if a little guy like Bruce Lee could kick and punch his way to success, so could they, hence the enormous growth of the martial arts industry. What they didn't realize was the amount of time and effort Lee put in to master his craft. I'm not saying Lee could not have been emulated, but it requires the same level of commitment Lee put forth, which most people are not willing to do.

I coached Little League baseball for years and I was always amazed by the parents who thought their youngster was going to be the next Major League superstar. One by one I watched their balloons burst as they finally discovered their son didn't have a future in baseball and should be doing something else instead.

Frankly, to be successful in anything, you have to find your niche, master it, and work your ass off to make something happen. In other words, you have to be honest with yourself, and know your limitations. Either that or blind, dumb luck, such as winning the lottery.

What do these people who peddle the latest panacea know that we don't? That P.T. Barnum was correct, "There's a sucker born every minute."

Caveat Emptor Y'all!

Tim Bryce is a writer and management consultant located in Palm Harbor, Florida.

He can be contacted at:  timb001@phmainstreet.com

Copyright © 2008 Tim Bryce.  All rights reserved.

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