Saturday, April 21, 2012

Be careful what you work for...

This weekend we're in Portland at the SCAA show.  While waiting for the expo to open this morning, I went with our singularly well-favored client Johnny J to the national semi-finals of the World Barista Championship. 

It is indisputable that all of the contestants had honed some esoteric skills.  I would not ever say that I can do what they do so well.  For those unfamiliar with formal barista competition, the parameters are strict, the judges are omniscient, and the competition is fierce.

But at the same time, I had to ask myself: if a chihuahua wins first place in a dog show, does that make it a good pet?  Does it make it a good friend?  Does it make it a lovable family member?  Does winning a dog show make a show dog anything beyond a dog show winner?  Would I want to live with a show-winning chihuahua?  Would I trade my deformed (defective?) Basset Hound for it?

I have no problem with competing or with hard work or with sacrifice.  On the contrary, I love work because to me it is the tangible, visceral cost of building and improving and of making my life meaningful.  But I like to keep track of the connection between "winning" and "meaning", both for myself AND for my business.

What we choose to work for defines us every single day of our lives: it shows us and others what we believe to be important.

Is there anything more tragic than working hard for many years, and finally succeeding at great personal something that ultimately doesn't really matter to us?  Whose competition have we entered, and why?

What do we work for in our businesses?  In our relationships?  In our lives?