Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Reinvent The Wheel (MY Eng #42)

This is part of a running series about English idioms - less about language, more about life itself. Previously, we covered 'missing the woods for the trees', 'the elephant in the room', 'practising what you preach', blowing hot and cold', 'no smoke without fire', 'one swallow does not make a summer', 'apples and oranges', 'cut to the chase', 'leave no stone unturned', 'that's the way the cookie crumbles', 'can't have your cake and eat it too', 'old is gold', 'putting the cart before the horse', 'mountain out of a molehill', 'pot calling the kettle black', 'bite the bullet', 'go the extra mile', 'silence is golden', 'the devil is in the details', 'sink or swim', 'once bitten twice shy', 'don't count your chickens before they hatch', 'don't put all your eggs into one basket', 'chicken and egg', 'walking on eggshells', 'flogging a dead horse', 'better late than never', 'storm in a teacup', 'between a rock and a hard place', 'darkest before dawn', 'empty vessels make the most noise', 'birds of a feather flock together', 'separate the wheat from the chaff', 'let sleeping dogs lies', 'open a can of worms', 'light at the end of the tunnel', 'trial and error', 'look before you leap', 'lightning in a bottle', 'on the same page' and 'don't judge a book its cover'.

Be creative!

Think outside of the box!

Don't follow the crowd!

That's a common rallying call being blasted from the mountaintop, especially in this fast-moving digital era. Be nimble, be agile. Survival of the fittest. Those who can't evolve will eventually go extinct.

Sound advice. Still, danger lies in following it blidnly and taking it to the extreme. Sometimes, we don't have to fashion fancy and flashy solutions to problems that can be overcome with a simple fix...

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Why complicate matters? Over-analysis can lead to paralysis. There is no need to reinvent the wheel.

The problem arises when creativity becomes an end rather than the means. Hours after hours are spent on brainstorming. We want to place all options on the table. We're not satisfied until every path is explored.

But being overly meticulous has its drawbacks. Discussions get protracted. Debates get heated. Decisions get delayed.

Sure, sometimes the old way of doing things can be improved. Optimal solutions can save time and energy in the long run. It's admirable to strive for perfection.

It's fine to build a faster car. Or an energy-efficient engine which runs on batteries that's kind towards the environment. But not all core features need to be modified. Some fundamentals of physics stay the same. Cars move really fast on four wheels.

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In short, don't fix something if it isn't broken. Creativity is a precious resource that has to be expended carefully.

Until the day comes where cars can fly, there is really no reason to reinvent the wheel.

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