Miss Manner: The Speed of Life

In the modern world, we run at a warp speed. There is no walking aloud.  As Audrey42 said, there is a crisis in leadership. I got my first Writer’s Digest magazine (subscription vs randomly-found-and-bought) and they talked about how editors don’t just edit. They make templates, create materials for sales & marketing and about eight other tasks.

Ok, but how many books is each editor working on.  Every blog post I’ve read, every editorial has said editors have stacks of manuscripts to read/review; they are working on anywhere from 4-10 accepted/contracted manuscripts…  Multiply ALL of those tasks by 4 (lowest number I’ve ever heard). The more I process it, the more I think we’ve lost our collective minds. This is a perfect example of a problem.

How can anyone think this is reasonable? My sister and I talked about the fetish (and yes that is the word we decided best fits) with startup-mentality. The idea of one person trying to do everything for the business – and the romance of them being good at it. It’s a myth.

Yes, there are some amazing stories of start-ups in the recent past: Facebook, Google, PayPal… Go back further and you have things like Coca-Cola, Walmart, Ford…  But you know what – they are lies.

Let’s look at Ford for example. He’s touted an an entrepreneur, a start-up. He had financial backers. When you look at most of the highly successful “startups” they had significant financial help. If not from the very start, damn close to it. That capital investment was almost universally used to hire people. People who are good at what they do: programming or marketing or even managing contractors… the strongest startups are the ones where the founder knew how to hire talented people to fill in their weaknesses. If anything, the exceptions prove the rule: the game-designer who goes it alone and then suddenly “hits it big” and struggles – or falls apart as so many do/have.

I would make the argument that one of the weaknesses of our current economy is this very concept. We want every person to be good at 50 tasks… instead of being experts in 5. We don’t value a painter who just wants to paint. We don’t honor the teacher who wants to teach one topic ad infinitum. They should too.

Let’s stop valuing the person who can do 30 things adequately and applaud the people who do three things with the focus and precision of a Master.


2 thoughts on “Miss Manner: The Speed of Life”

  1. The flip side of this is that the original rhyme was, “Better a Jack of All Trades than a Master of One.”
    I think it is important to be *competent* at a variety of tasks (both in your professional and personal life) versus honing one skill to a complete ignorance of most others.
    With that said, we DO have specialists in various fields for a reason, and it’s equally important to give them the freedom to do their job within that specialty- I don’t need my neurosurgeon to be a competent carpenter, although I DO want her to have enough time with patients who aren’t under anesthesia to not be a jerk when she talks to me awake. LOL


    1. there is a difference between “competent” and “mastery” – the difference between “amateur” and “professional” is a good line. I am an amateur cook and would never dream to compete with a professional chef on pretty much any line of their trade – but I am competent.

      The “lone entrepreneur” might be competent at many tasks – but they probably hit the “amatuer” line more than the “professional” mark.


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