Getting Your Hands Dirty

In the March issue of Wired Magazine, Clive Thompson writes about the American loss of ability to do things ourselves. I was both offended and fascinated. You see, I am one of the people he talks about in the article. But it isn’t that I can’t do these things — it’s that I know there is someone who can do it better or faster than I can. I’d much rather pay them, or even trade their services for some of mine, than go through all of the motions of a DIY project only to finish with no great sense of accomplishment or satisfaction. In addition, society today is far too complicated for any one person to be able to do all of the things that need done. When we started Port-to-Port Consulting in 1991, my partner and I could boast that between us we knew just about everything one needed to know to run a small business’s office network. It was true too. Today, our staff of 11 wouldn’t even pretend to make that claim.

Besides, if everyone tried to do everything himself, I wouldn’t have a job. There is no rocket science to what we do. The magic is that we do it all the time so we’re better at it than the person who does it infrequently. That’s the secret behind most professional services, although most practitioners won’t admit it. They’d rather have you believe that they are uniquely qualified to perform your service due to their incredible intellect and expensive education. Really they are better and faster because they get to practice more than you do. The education and intellect help, but you can think of several doctors, lawyers, and computer technicians who aren’t nearly as smart as you.

Anyway, Mr. Thompson called me out and told me that my reluctance to do more myself is ruining America. I’m going to join his counterrevolution. This weekend I’m going to change the windshield wipers on my car.

I’ve got to start small.

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