Wednesday, January 9, 2019

In praise of hard.

                                              This was hard work.

For much of 2018, there were scads of articles trumpeted on social media about this miraculous invention or another (usually invented by a 14-year-old) that will solve all our problems and the globe’s.

You’ve probably seen a dozen videos of old bottles being turned into solar-powered roadways, or buses that rise on stilts and drive over traffic jams, or aqua vacuum-cleaners that will somehow, magically, removed the Texas-sized dump of floating garbage that is destroying the Pacific Ocean.

As to the last miracle, you can read about its over-hype, and its under-delivery here.

Technology, or any significant advance for that matter, whether it is in art or love or even dining, takes a significant amount of work. Breakthroughs, as sexy and cinematic as they seem, are usually the result of about a billion hours and a million previous failures.

One of the many maladies of our current age is a complete lack of personal or societal patience. We expect to be able to flip a switch and clear the air of pollution, lose weight, learn a language or even rid our world of Donald Trump.

We are, in effect, modern-day alchemists. We hope that the road to riches is easy--just turn base-metal into gold.

In the real world, things are not that simple.

They take work.

If I had to write a manifesto for any one of a thousand companies or politicians or educators or even corporate leaders, I would title it: “In praise of hard.”

It would talk about vision being easy, i.e. talk is cheap. But the work to achieve that vision being hard. Wanting to find an insight from a quintillion bytes of data is simple. Actually finding an insight—a real insight—is rare, difficult and, frankly, unlikely.

Maybe the notion of hard counters the entire ethos of modern life and marketing. And I am once again, Vox Clamantis in Deserto—a voice crying in the wilderness.

But that’s ok.

I never expected doing what I think is right would be easy.

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