Your Withering Job Might Be The Sign That You Need To Do It Better
I was in a Uber yesterday and the conversation progressively moved to the “war” (in Europe) the company is waging against the taxi industry and other incumbents. My driver was not under the Stockholm Syndrome and had a very fair approach to the whole dilemma but what struck me was his remark about “doing the job”. His point was extremely simple — people are turning to Uber (and competitors) because the whole experience is so much better. It’s not only the technology, pricing and the hype, it’s about the way drivers act and go out of their way to provide excellent service. This is true about other parts of our economy where digital technologies are transforming business as usual — something that isn’t working as it should be is prey for disruption. The culprit, human laziness.
The Internet is like a river, a tiny crack of a market opens up and in it rushes, eventually forming a large secondary branch until yet another crack opens up. The fracture is often an existing business model that has been exploited for years without any change and frequently, prices have surged and quality or service has lagged if not, disappeared. This is where digital technologies are so efficient, acting as an accelerator-to-market. Who’s fault? There’s no one else to blame but those that have executed the tasks over the years to provide that service or product. They (not the system) are the one’s who need not to point fingers at one and other but instead, blame themselves for the slow erosion of quality work that results in letting the “crack” open up in the first place. The innovative companies that are pushing into these new territories are not crusaders, they’re not out to kill people, they’re goal is to make something that has been broken, work and they have the mindset that goes with it — do better. George Orwell’s timeless essay Animal Farm portrayed a society that was sick from within, failing from its own incapacity to evolve (and succeed) without laziness, disrespect, and domination. Does this ring a bell when looking at besieged industries? The bad guys are not the one’s you’re made to hate at the start of the movie.
That said, all this talk about the “new religion” and sainthoods behind global internet behemoths is a bunch of crap too. Not every 0&1 startup is out there to serve humanity and most of them are funded by people that spend too much time at private golf clubs (note — I love golf but not all it unfortunately encompasses) and exclusive resorts far from the effects of this transformation, bathing in their reclusive freedom. But yes, generally speaking, even these frequently tax evasive and high yielding dividend companies end up improving the product or service that was there before they arrived and many, if not millions, benefit from that. No one is innocent, we all need to have a home, stay warm and get enough to eat so work in whatever form, remains the mainstay of our society. Doing one’s work as best one can, day after day, over the span of an adult lifetime is of course a myth but we can try — which is big gap between the lousy service you got yesterday and that over hyped and expensive restaurant or that deplorable customer care you got earlier this month when talking with that call center agent to get a technician to come over for the fourth time this year to repair your new washing machine.
Seth Godin is one of a few visionaries that help people realize their true potential and give them a moral and intellectual boost to make the decision to change their work habits and hopefully, be happier. If you’re not doing your best it’s probably because you’re not where you’re supposed to be. There can be many reasons for that and some solutions are not as easy to execute as Seth gracefully points out but you can face them and put in the effort over time to gradually shift to an environment where you can do your best. And that might be the best decision you’ve made in a while, by choosing a new place to shine you’re most likely to aim at one where others are doing likewise and that is an area where water is not likely to come gushing in the window.