I was lunching with a colleague today, talking about how many companies are getting petty about cost savings and their bottom line. It is a sign of the times that some of our biggest companies are nickel and diming their suppliers to a degree that wasn’t as common, several years ago. While bemoaning the current climate, my colleague leaned over and said “you know, nobody ever gets penalized for wasting time”.
That really is a clear revelation. Many organisations are so minutely focused on the bottom line, that they lose sight of what it costs them to do that, in time. Why that matters is that wasting time carries an opportunity cost. The real, uncounted cost is the fact that you aren’t doing something that contributes to the betterment of your situation, while you are solely focused on not losing some small increment of money.
I wonder how many artists approach their work that way? They spend so much time making sure they don’t lose some evanescent quality of their work or other, that they lose sight of the fact that they could be producing a second work, perhaps even better than the one they’re working on now. How many painters are so worried about using too much expensive paint that they mar and ruin their painting, for want of a little pigment? How many recording sessions opt out of using real musicians, only to spend hours and hours trying to make samples sound half way like a human? How many authors agonize over finding just the right words, when a whole chapter could have been written?
As artists, how many of us put off even starting a project for days, weeks and months, when in the time it took us to worry about it, we could have produced something? If we’re any good at our art (and we must be, or we wouldn’t identify ourselves as artists) then I wonder why we’re so prepared to waste time on stupid stuff that saves money, or embarrassment, or the pain of being judged a failure, when trusting our own talents and abilities would be more productive?
I must end it there. I have a song lyric to write.