A hard thing

A hard thing is never done by reading an article about doing it.

From Michael Kopp of rands in repose fame on Twitter.

I have relearned this the hard way over the past few months. Documentation and sales pitches are the same as an article.

Don’t get me wrong, articles, documentation, or sales pitches are great for coming up with the hypothetical. Only by testing that hypothesis enough to resolve all the various possible problems can one have confidence in it.

Probably I still have this point of view because I sit at bottom rung of the organizational ladder where we implement the hypothetical. The higher one goes up the ladder, the less one works in reality and more immersed in hypothetical. Taking the time to send this down to someone like me to work out the problems and then make a decision based on that strong reality-based grounding takes strong discipline.

There will be pressure to make a decision faster. One way to make that improvement is to skip the testing or do less testing. We end up paying for that later by making a poor decision which costs us later. Maybe I get annoyed because I am one of the people who has to pay the cost of making the impossible happen.

TED Talk: Mike Rowe celebrates dirty jobs

Michael Kopp posted about “If someone is trying to make you stay in your job – leave“. There are lots of other quotes the site to where he pulled the quote with the theme of a job must provide value is the sense of being a motivator through the challenges it provides and the growth we get from doing it. Once that growth ceases or we are being held back by others, we ought to move on to a job which will be a challenge.

It reminded me of the Mike Rowe TED Talk below. (Transcript and interesting terms below the video.)

This is from the transcript.

So I started to wonder what would happen if we challenged some of these sacred cows. Follow your passion — we’ve been talking about it here for the last 36 hours. Follow your passion — what could possibly be wrong with that? Probably the worst advice I ever got. (Laughter) You know, follow your dreams and go broke, right? I mean, that’s all I heard growing up. I didn’t know what to do with my life, but I was told if you follow your passion, it’s going to work out.

… We’ve declared war on work, as a society, all of us. It’s a civil war.  It’s a cold war, really. We didn’t set out to do it  and we didn’t twist our mustache in some Machiavellian way,  but we’ve done it.  And we’ve waged this war on at least four fronts, certainly in Hollywood. The way we portray working people on TV,  it’s laughable. If there’s a plumber, he’s 300 pounds and he’s got a giant buttcrack, admit it.  You see him all the time.  That’s what plumbers look like, right? We turn them into heroes, or we turn them into punchlines.  That’s what TV does. We try hard on Dirty Jobs not to do that, which is why I do the work and I don’t cheat.

We’ve waged this war on Madison Avenue. So many of the commercials that come out there in the way of a message, what’s really being said? Life would be better if you could work a little less. If you didn’t have to work so hard. If you could get home a little earlier, if you could retire a little faster, if you could punch out a little sooner. It’s all in there, over and over, again and again.

Washington? I can’t even begin to talk about the deals and policies in place that affect the bottom-line reality of the available jobs ’cause I don’t really know. I just know that that’s a front in this war.

And right here, guys; Silicon Valley. How many people have an iPhone on ’em right now? How many people have their Blackberries? We’re plugged in, we’re connected. I would never suggest for a second that something bad has come out of the tech revolution. Good grief, not to this crowd. But I would suggest that innovation without imitation is a complete waste of time. And nobody celebrates imitation the way Dirty Jobs guys know it has to be done. Your iPhone without those people making the same interface, the same circuitry, the same board over and over – all that, that’s what makes it equally as possible as the genius that goes inside of it.

And so we’ve got this new tool box. Our tools today don’t look like shovels and picks, they look like the stuff we walk around with. And so the collective effect of all of that has been this marginalization of lots and lots of jobs.

My father encouraged me to go to school and get a degree so my choices in life did not limit to things like digging ditches (his favorite unskilled labor example). He made me do manual labor to see that it was not something I would like. Any time my grades were poor he would put me to work as a “preparation for my future life” but really as a motivator to work harder in school.

Dirty jobs were punishment to me. Guess that is why I enjoy my cubicle.

The twin testicles on Mike Rowe’s chin….

  • Anagnorisis is a moment in a play or other work when a character makes a critical discovery.
  • Peripeteia is a reversal of circumstances, or turning point.