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Is the pursuit of dreams = inefficiency?

May 13, 2010

Friday last week the Danish newspaper "Kristelig Dagblad" brought a whole page about people pursuing their dreams to make a living out their hobby. The question is if there lies true value in such pursuits, or if it is just a societal waste?

A teacher of philosphy 'Esben Moestrup' started his own distillery "Enghaven", after his wish to work just 4 instead of 5 days a week was granted him by his employer. He believes that though he now spends less time doing what is his primary profession and education, he believes that his cider brandy adventure has made him a happier and better teacher. Esben Moestrup is not alone in his pursuit. Many other teachers in his network are pursuing similar dreams of e.g. writing or importing wine.

The opposing point-of-view, put forward by one of Denmarks pop lifestyle commentators "Christine Feldthaus" is that this is a waste. "We have almost as much spare time as we do time at work, and we spend less and less time on what generates value.", she says.

This reminds me of one of Dave Snowdens blog post "Antonyms for sense-making", where one of the points he makes is about the difference between efficiency and effectiveness:

Efficiency is about stripping away superfluous functionality so that you only have what you really need left. This is great if the context does not shift and has dominated re-engineering and six-stigma approaches. Effectiveness involves introducing a requisite degree of inefficiency so that the system as a whole can be more resilient and adaptive. Focusing on effectiveness is appropriate where the context is, or may shift before you can re-engineer your system.

I would like to think that it generally benefits society that we pursue our dreams, especially because there are few stronger sources of motivation than the fire of passion. Moreover, I remember a three month period during 2007, where I worked 80-90 hours a week, while I was at Bang & Olufsen - and only because I had to. There was no time for any superflous tasks.This also meant that I was in a state of no surplus cognitive capacity. My mind was "maxed out". There was no room for creativity and innovation left. I was efficient but not very effective during that period - the context kept changing.

To make my point more explicit, I believe that true value springs from the people, who chose to find time to do other things than ordinary work and live out their passions. Now, I may well be wrong. I am not exactly unbiased in the matter, but with the fun I'm having, I wouldn't mind being wrong.

Oh! By the way, Tuesdays tests at Pernod-Ricard went well. Though this mini-job as taster and noser isn't in the bag yet, chances are fair, my motivation is burning, and I wouldn't take it, if I didn't think it would bring value for both them and me.

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