17 July 2007

Progress is Boring

Progress is boring. Emotional upheaval may be dramatic, but it interferes with the stability needed for people to focus on inventions, novel writing, or creating a business. In 1700, per capita GDP in the U.S. and Mexico were roughly the same ($490 and $450). By 1800, the U.S. per capita GDP was not quite double ($807 vs. $450), but by last year, the U.S. per capita GDP was about four times Mexico's ($43,500 vs. $10,600). Why did Mexico fall behind? It may have to do with political turmoil. Between 1824 and 1867, the U.S. had 13 presidential administrations; Mexico had 52, or 4 times as many. Could it be that 4 times as much political turmoil led to one-fourth the per capita income? It certainly sounds plausible to me.

This is something that families and companies can forget. Progress depends on fairly boring and stable conditions. A child learning how to play piano can't do it in a noisy, turbulent, emotionally draining environment. Or, better put, is less likely to learn it in such conditions. Companies that get caught up in reorganizations, a string of initiatives, and lots of reassignments have a difficult time simply going about the business of producing and creating new products and services.

And speaking of creating, boredom can be conducive to creativity as well. One might argue that most acts of creativity were attempts to create one's way out of a desperate situation - a situation that often included boredom. Unconstrained, a child won't stay bored long; she'll invent a game or begin to play or find something to do.

Progress is not exciting. It is engaging.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If you are calling me boring, then you are using the wrong word. Nice try, though, Ron. (I think).

Truth be known, I am anything but. Still, I am capable of an immensely sustaining stability, which can easily be mistaken for boredom by the uninitiated. ;)

(The mysteries I have yet to unfold for you, my eager little Gelfling! LOL!)