Monday, 23 January 2017


“The time for empty talk is over. Now arrives the hour of action.”

Those were the words of President Trump at his inauguration.  Yes those were the words of President Trump at his inauguration. Have you noticed, whether for emphasis or whatever, he repeats himself….constantly saying the same thing twice.

“The time for empty talk is over. Now arrives the hour of action.”

There you go again.

So is the USA embarked on four years of blood, sweat and toil? Will Trump be dragging people back to sweaty manual labour like coal mining whilst the rest of us are in driverless cars moving towards the inevitable digital economy?

In Japan this week there was something of a panic surrounding people working too hard. 50 hour weeks, they say, are killing people. They’re considering stopping work at 3pm every Friday so people can go shopping and stimulate the economy. Yet 50 hours is only a five days from 8am to 6pm. Every executive I know does at least that.

The myth that any work in excess of 40 hours a week is counter-productive is as arbitrary as the weekly alcohol limit of 14 units for men and women unless you’re Spanish and male when it’s 35 units. “Aclamaciones!!”

Hunter/Gatherers in the distant past only worked a 22 hour week. And now some of us are envisaging a virtually work free life waited upon by good looking robots. But I actually don’t get what all the fuss is about. If you get it even vaguely right there is hardly any distinction between work and play.

But there are times when being a workaholic just seems misplaced. I recently heard about a friend who had undergone heroic surgery on his heart. I asked how he was doing to be told he was not doing all that well especially as his recent promotion meant he had to work even harder.

Like that lady in a senior post in Intel saying: “I have this work/life balance thing nailed.
It’s work, work, work.” But acting busy rather than enjoying being busy is tiresome.  Alpha Go is an Artificial Intelligence system owned by Google. Against expectation it beat the “Go” World Champion Lee Sedol recently. Philosopher Mark Rowlands got it perfectly when he described the game at its most intense:
“There is the joy of focus, the experience of being completely immersed in what one is doing.”

And that’s what real work is like.

Leisure on the other hand can be rather boring. Read a Jane Austen novel and reflect on how tedious having nothing much to do in 1800 was for many of what are the now-busy middle class. Certainly small town social politics in places like Chawton where she spent the last twelve years of her life seems rather depressing.
The real trick is in wanting to do what you have to do. Because involvement is always better than being disengaged.

Just as Barack Obama will already be discovering.

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