Be Great

If you take a moment to look around the room you are in now, what do you see?
Are you surrounded by things that matter, and were built by people who care?
Or, more likely, are you surrounded by mass produced, assembly line, imported
goods that you honestly don’t believe will last all that long? I’ve been
thinking about quality
again, and how it applies to me, to what I do, and how I spend my time.

It started with our washing machine. After seven years, our washing machine
looks like it’s on its last legs. Seven years sounds like a long time to have
an appliance, but its really not. When our grandparents bought appliances they
were built to last for thirty years, now they are built to last five. We
called up a repair man who stopped by the house to take a look. He was an
older guy, and didn’t bring the right tools for the job, so he just looked at
the machine and told us his view of the model we own. He said that he had just
told a customer that day that his washing machine, same model as ours, was not
worth the cost to fix it, and that it would be cheaper and more economical to
buy a new one. As older people do, he lamented the quality of todays machines,
so I asked him what was being built today that was as good as the machines of
the past.

He looked me in the eye and said “There are none.”

The repairman’s view of the world has become so pessimistic that he truly
believes that there is nothing built for the common man worth buying. This is
sad, but I believe he’s wrong. I believe it in part because I’m typing this on
a MacBook Pro, in my opinion the best computer ever built. The perfect blend
of power and portability, but more than that, an example of manufacturing
excellence. Apple is a company that cares
about details, and they are not alone. I believe we may be at the beginning of
a renaissance of sorts, a return to traditionally crafted goods created by
artisans and engineers.

These people have inspired me to do better, to be more, to remember the
attention to detail that the Navy demanded of me. Take a minute to read these
stories, watch their videos, and see where they are coming from.

Saddleback Leather,
Coudal Partners,
DODOcase, Blackbox
, and finally, Staber

Staber may very well replace our Maytag washing machine. Its all they do.

We don’t have to live in a world where all of our things are replaceable,
where everything around us falls apart after a couple of years of use. We
don’t have to live in a world where everything has a computer chip and can’t
be fixed if it breaks. We don’t have to live surrounded by junk. But that’s
what the past thirty years of steadily declining quality of goods has taught
us, it’s become a core belief that affects everything we do. We go to work,
and sigh, and think, “here it is, another Monday…”, and do what we have to do
until we can go home. Punch the clock, earn a paycheck, who cares if our work
is any good? That’s wrong, and it doesn’t have to be like that.

Living in a world of quality goods and services starts with each one of us
caring more about what we do
with our lives, what we spend our money on, and most importantly, where and
how we spend our time. No matter what you do, if it is writing software or
changing oil, I want to encourage you to do your absolute best. Because no
matter what you are doing, you make an impact on the world around you, you
matter because you are here, and when you start to believe that what you do
makes a difference, you start to care a little more, and when you care about
your work, you make the world around you a little better every day.

So, today, as you go to work, or prepare for the next day, or think about what
might come next…

be great.