Never delegate passion

In a great documentary about Charles and Ray Eames (people I had never thought to be interested in before I watched it), it was said that Charles said, “Never delegate understanding”. Great motto; one that, after I heard it, I realized is a big part of my approach to life. I’m happy to do extra work if it leads to extra understanding. I’m happier learning how to derive an equation from first principles than just memorizing it. I’m happier to chase a little detail through the eye of a needle than just assume that someone will take care of it.

But enough about my approach to understanding, let’s talk about something else about me. Because I also realized lately that, while I could blame my aversion to corporate cubicle life on the idea that I’d rather not work for someone else’s profit, it’s more accurate to say that I don’t want to delegate passion. That’s kinda what you’re doing, as an employee*. You go and work on someone’s thing, without any significant concern about whether you’re really passionate about it, assuming that someone else will supply the passion and you can just do the work. And, well, that’s fine, too, of course. It’s a totally workable system. Just not for some of us. I’d say, “never delegate passion”, where ‘never’ is defined as I always define it in my speech, as ‘never (unless you want to)’.

(Another, random, link about the Eameses: The Information Machine. Great if you love computers or 50’s modernist style cartoons, best if you love both.)

* Unless you happen to be an employee whose passions really do align well with the mission of the corporation, in which case, you may stop reading.


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