Lately, I’ve been practicing drawing and “painting” on my iPad app called Paper 53. I stare at the blank page wondering if I will be able to draw the subject. In the beginning, nothing goes well…the eyes, nose and mouth are out of alignment, the head may be too big or too small, the body stiff or weird. The picture looks awful and does not appear promising. But I have learned over time that if I remain patient and keep pushing through, the picture will begin to emerge. The picture doesn’t come out in the first hour but really starts to come into being during the fourth or fifth hour. Still…I keep working it until the eighth or tenth hour when it really starts to shine. There is a lesson here and I think it applies to everything else in life. Malcolm Gladwell says it takes at least 10,000 hours before you become the best. That’s a lot of hours, a lot of patience and a lot of pushing through. Yet today, with the internet and the business rules (speed! now! urgency! instant returns!), we are primed for instant gratification. We don’t want to take the time to invest in learning, invest in research, invest in anything that will improve the long run. I feel it too when I want to produce the drawing quickly. I’ve been trained in the mantra of efficiency: I build spreadsheets to download information quickly and then produce reports as fast as I can. Faster and faster and faster. But to produce a great drawing, I have to slow down and sometime step back to evaluate where I’m going wrong. This is not a production; this is an artistry that will produce awe (at least I hope so). Here are some of the signs of our instant gratification:
- Companies want new hires to hit the ground running and but that’s ridiculous. Just figuring out how the culture works takes time.
- Shareholders are too short term focused, for the most part. Some companies have monthly forecasting drills that based on fear…fear of the shareholders.
- Companies don’t train anymore because they don’t see the immediate result. Also, it is a quick way to boost the bottom line by getting rid of any training.
- Same thinking applies to how companies view employees – get rid of them and boost your bottom line to feed the insatiable shareholders. It’s the fastest way to reduce costs.
- The mania for ever faster algorithms leads to tearing up the earth and is suspect in the flash crashes we’ve had.
- The Millennials want to move up quickly; heck, they’ve been feeding at the Internet all their lives so their pace is measured in nanoseconds.
We need to slow down and think about long term, investment, beauty, and society. Meanwhile I will continue practicing on being patient, and hopefully produce many more awesome drawings.