Harry Houdini had a very special talent: he could open any complicated lock. He boasted that he could get himself out of any confinement within 60 minutes, and he never failed. That is, until, legend has it, a man in a small suburban city decided to challenge Houdini, wanting to embarrass him. A special-made box was built, with an extremely complicated lock and especially strong steel designed to trap Houdini. He took on this challenge, with everyone agreeing to the conditions he usually worked under: he could wear his own clothes, and no one could watch him.
Once he stepped in, the door was shut tight. Everyone’s back was turned toward the box. Thirty minutes later, a very focused Houdini was still trying to unlock the box. One hour later, he started to sweat. Two hours later, he still did not hear the little “tick” sound that opening a lock would produce. He was so exhausted that he leaned against the door and sat down. All of a sudden, the door opened.
The door was never locked. The incredibly intricate lock was really just a diversion.
You cannot unlock an unlocked door. Thus, there would have been no way for Houdini to hear the “tick” sound. But to Houdini, his heart was locked. His failure was a result of his concentration on the symbolic lock. His goal changed from surviving into just opening the lock. His goal in mind had been so set in stone; he completely ignored that it might not even have been locked. Houdini teaches us that oftentimes, we are so focused and set on our goals that we ignore the most basic approaches to accomplish them. Instead, we tend to overcomplicate things when they are really quite simple.
The post is translated from the Chinese article-