Saturday, July 11, 2009

Inefficient, creative people = Quality!

Achieving quality in your life can be seen as inefficient: you must work hard, devote plenty of time and resources to it, and pretty much defer other things not so serious. I sometimes think the eschewing the “efficient” path may often lead to much valuable achievements and probably a more rewarding life.

I stumbled across a little blog post on WLC by Shane McCarron entitled "Work and Life vs. Creativity". He talks about his experiences working with teams that create computing standards. He has noticed you cannot manage these people to be “efficient” and expect results. Only through being inefficient and allowing these creative people to run their course do they end up with quality.

Daryl Furuyama at White Hat Black Box has expanded on this thought:

How Efficiency Has Decreased Quality

Lately I’ve seen many instances of people stating the hidden costs of efficiency, which usually results in the degredation of quality. Here are a few examples:
  • Food: I was watching a video about the movie, Food, Inc., and they discussed the efforts of the United States to reduce the costs of food through various programs and subsidies to corn and soy. The result is the average American only spends about 9% of their income on food, when 40 years ago it was 15%. The hidden cost is that the food is less nutritious. It looks nice on the outside, but is lacking of substance.

  • Leisure: I finally had a chance to read Mihály Csíkszentmihályi’s book, Finding Flow, and it was amazing. Csíkszentmihályi states that a reason people are unhappy is because they do not know how to spend their free time. It often takes up to a half an hour to “get into” what they are doing and reach a state of flow. Many people do not have the patience to overcome the initial obstacle and get into a state of flow. Rather, people choose the activity that is more accessible (i.e. easy) such as watching TV that leads to distraction, but not fulfillment.

    Bill Cosby also noticed that people don’t know how to enjoy themselves. There seems to be a confusion between what people enjoy and what they think they should enjoy. Csíkszentmihályi states that nothing is interesting in itself, but it becomes interesting once we focus on it and begin to notice the subtleties that we didn’t notice before.

  • Shelter: I was out with my girlfriend a few weeks ago looking into apartments for her. We were looking a wide range in quality, with some being 40 years old and some being 4 years old. The 40 year old complex was recently renovated and looked nice on the outside. On the inside, the elevator wobbled and made noises, the halls were dark and enclosed, and it generally felt not secure. Once again it looked nice, but lacked substance.

    The 4 year old complex had a security patrol, open and well lit hallways, and felt study and comfortable. Going on price alone, the 40 year old complex was a more “efficient” choice, but she would have sacrificed comfort, security, and general peace of mind.

How to Obtain Quality

Efficiency is often interpreted as being “what is easy”. When things are easy, they often suffer from a lack of quality. To obtain quality in your life, you must determine your worth and what is appropriate to you. If fast food is good enough for you, you can continue to eat fast food. If it isn’t good enough, then you will look for something better.

Tina Su from Think Simple Now wrote about her experiences in overcoming her limiting beliefs and realizing she is worthy of having a nice laptop. Often the costs (both monetary and effort) act as a filter for those worthy of obtaining quality. If you believe you are worthy, you will be willing to spend the extra effort, time, or money necessary to obtain the quality you seek.

Having quality in your life beings with picking the things that are worthy of you and choosing to reject everything else, even if it comes easy

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