Doing It Right
This is something that has always obsessed me – and is the main reason why I could not stand the high-tech world, where I worked from 1980 until 2001. It was not the technology, I loved that – but the people, who insisted on doing things wrong.
In any area of expertise there are always ways of doing things better – and it doesn’t take a genius to find out what these are. This is how mankind has always prospered – by doing things better. There should be no arguments about this – and as a matter of fact, there never are.
Instead, people stubbornly do the wrong thing anyway- knowing intuitively that this is what they are supposed to do. If anyone got in the way (such as me) he was simply mowed down – or to use a biblical term: cast into the outer darkness – and ignored (like an Old Testament prophet).
To put this another way: we are now concentrating on destruction, not construction – and we are carefully ignoring this – the most important distinction that we should be aware of.
My guide here has been Karl Jaspers and his concept of Existenz. From his Being Unsatisfied as an Expression of Possible Existenz:
Unless one is unsatisfied with the mere performance of a task in an ideal entirety – can possible Existenz utter and undertstand this dissatisfaction. It is never motivated by generally valid reasons; those rather tend to induce contentment and tranquility in the totality of mundane existence permeated by the idea thus spiritualized.
The discontent of possible self-being has broken through mundane existence and cast the individual back upon himself, back to the origin that lets him deal with his world and, with his fellow, realize his Existenz.
The important point here, which he only touches on, is how business has become our religion – one that demands ourselves as living sacrifices.
Until recently, I stayed in contact with an engineer friend in Silicon Valley. I knew him well, and attended his wedding dinner – an extravagant affair in Chinatown in San Francisco. I liked him – you could not help but like him – but he never seemed to get the hang of who is was or where he was going. In the last ten years he must have worked at nearly that many unsuccessful start-ups in the Valley.
He was like many other people I have known – their lives made no sense, and eventually they broke off contact with me, because they knew this unconsciously – and knew I knew it too.