There is a whole contingent of people in wellness sectors of the internet promising that celery juice will not only detoxify your body and regulate your digestion, but clear your mind, help you drop ten pounds, and maybe even cure you of diseases (they say it with an asterisk so they can’t get sued). There is an idea that the freshness of the celery juice is key. Only specific juicing methods, types of celery, temperatures of juice are acceptable, and hundreds of posts, blogs, and forum discussions reveal ever-deepening levels of piety in the rabbit hole of celery juice perfectionism. Why are people so obsessed with getting it right? Is it because it works?
No. It’s because it doesn’t. Because celery juice doesn’t cure illnesses, when people who hoped it would look to the internet for answers as to why it’s not working, they can be comforted by the idea that it will work – they have to try harder.
In his book The Gluten Lie, author Alan Levinovitz traces the history of cultural reactions to bread and gluten as it was considered, in turn, the savior and the downfall of all humanity. He nestles the whole framework inside of a remarkably common psychological trap that emerges from his experience as a religion scholar, which can best be summarized as some variation of ‘the solution didn’t work because you didn’t execute the solution well enough.’
This fallacy has some cousins in the inherently uncertain worlds of innovation and entrepreneurship. Leadership models and strategies, organizational frameworks, and software all propose they are the solution. If this system doesn’t make you radically efficient, innovative, productive, and transform your company, work, and life? Then, well, you must not have applied the principles well enough.
People frequently promote these solutions by promising a shorter workweek, a more productive workflow, a healthier body, all with less effort than ever(!). None of these things are wrong to seek, and we all have more to learn about to best be good stewards of what has been given us – but there is a danger here.
The basic fallacy is that if the proposed solution doesn’t work, it’s not because of the solution, it’s because of you.
This is a tempting fallacy because it avoids the uncomfortable reality that there is no sure-fire way to lose 20 pounds, make a million dollars, or cure cancer, which is hard to stomach.
The fact is, we don’t have that much control over how productive we are, how healthy we are, how successful we are, and that we can do everything right and still fall short, or do everything wrong, and still win out.
So how can we avoid this trap?
- Treat any solution that promises solutions with suspicion.
- Be careful of one-size-fits-all solutions, particularly to complex problems.
- Give yourself grace. Just because an idea or system failed doesn’t mean it’s because you didn’t do a good enough job.
- Only drink celery juice that has been cold-pressed so that it retains its detoxifying properties (apparently).
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