Home » Archive » Simple is dignified; easy is brutal

, written by Jeremy. Read the commentary.

I’m big on dignity. Refined, sophisticated, classy, savvy, eloquent, dilettante … all favourite words. And favourite images/brands too.

In my career one of the biggest differentiators between me and the other guys has been clean-cut, tidy, well kept and well chosen clothes, politeness, and careful attention to the ways in which I act and speak — and I’ve tried to be dignified. It’s made a huge difference.

So I am sceptical when Paul Graham tells Amazon that “when you evolve out of start-up mode and start worrying about being professional and dignified, you only lose capabilities. You don’t add anything… you only take away.”

He suggests that dignity is deadly.

I didn’t really buy into the rhetoric then but I do agree with Kathy Sierra’s comparison of her experiences with start-ups versus the corporate world. Just not for the reasons she might hope I would.

See dignity isn’t risk-averse, profit bound, incremental, Windows 2000, fake etc. It’s lazy to suggest it is and it clarifies why dignity is still advantageous. Dignity is grace, outbound interest, high-minded thinking, respectful, honourable, and worthy of esteem … you can be these things and still tote a Tablet PC. You can be dignified and still wear jeans … if that matters for much.

Kathy’s after simple and somehow thinks it’s an antonym of dignified … I’d suggest it’s a prerequisite. Simple is to dignified as easy is to brutal.

It’s easy to confuse grace with indecision, or politeness with insincerity, or interest with concession. But the differences are simple. Don’t give away the best of people for a misnamed preference. When you ask for simple, be sure you don’t really mean easy.

So, it boils right down to a simple question: Do you always want to be starting?

Isn’t there a time in every one’s evolution when we ought to become less and be more? Because this is essentially the difference between start-up (becoming) and dignified (being). As much as we need the first and should always spend energy on continuing to grow … don’t we also need at least a few of us to the second?

Do we really want a purely start-up culture? As jazzy as that sounds?

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,
Site Search Tags: , , , ,

Comments are closed.