Weakening Our Brains
“Anatomically, your brain isn’t a muscle. However, there’s a good reason why many people compare the brain to muscle—in both cases, the ‘Use it or lose it’ principle applies.”1
I have observed something interesting in my work travels worldwide: in less developed countries, the people I work with have less higher education but appear sharp, present, on the ball, and with bright eyes. In contrast, in a developed country, some of the more educated people appear as if they are not thinking on their feet; they often repeat phrases they learned at school or read in textbooks.
I believe the more developed a country is, the more organized and systematized it is—all is programmed and provided for. Education can be tantamount to programming. The most educated appear to have a solution before they know what the problem is. They are programmed. They do not have to think. They just react to stimuli.
In developed countries, food is available; just go around the corner to a store, food has already been prepared. All you need to do is choose and pay. Buses run on time, so you do not strain your brain figuring out how to arrive somewhere on schedule. Just follow the rules and you will do fine, or at least won’t get into trouble. You do not even need to think about when and how to cross the street: just watch the street lights. Soon, you will not even have to drive. You will just sit there and let the car drive you to your destination.
One day, I was standing on a street corner waiting for the lights to change to green. I looked. There was no car for miles on the left nor on the right. I still stood there like a trained rat, waiting for the lights to change.
Just imagine how much less you will use your brain when artificial intelligence replaces your thinking.
Add to it technology and we use less and less our brain. I was highly surprised, to say the least, when one of my MBA students did not know how to calculate 80% of $100. Another student could not be bothered to add several numbers. They both used a calculator.
Compare this to a developing country.
People have to think to survive. They need to constantly improvise. Nothing is given.
I remember a short documentary about Jamaica showing how the peasants succeeded in bringing water to their fields. The American experts said it would be too expensive to build a piping system to carry water from its source. The peasants created an out–of–the–box solution by attaching hollow bamboo sticks together in place of pipes. Voilà, the water arrived.
When I watch children play in a developing country, they make their own toys. They even create their own games. (I used to play soccer with old socks bundled into a ball.) In contrast, children in developed countries are given their toys. They do not have to be creative to build their toys. They are even given instructions on how to build a Lego house.
Note that in developed countries, many of the startup companies and businesses are started by immigrants or their children?
“The energy is in the periphery,” someone once told me, “not in the high rises in the town center.”
“Watch the poor people,” say the Jewish sages. “From them comes the energy.”
Ichak Kalderon Adizes
1“Treat Your Brain Like a Muscle: Exercise It,” To Your Health Newsletter 07, no. 10 (2013): http://www.toyourhealth.com/mpacms/tyh/article.php?id=1885.