This book is an excellent tool for reflection and contemplation. It’s also the type of book that read over and over again (much like Paulo Coelho’s, The Alchemist). I’m sure I’ll read it again, perhaps multiple times over. The book pushes you to do four things:
1) Contemplate and discuss your personal values.
2) Force you to think about how often you makes choices based on what is convenient rather than what is worthwhile.
3) Highlight the manner in which the tools of commerce become the tools used in non-commercial settings to the detriment of personal relationships and endeavors that support the common goals of society and humanity.
4) Encourage you to move the point of cynicism to actively work on reconciling your professional values, interpersonal relationships, and personal values.
As I thought about the book’s central objective, to make readers reflect, I took note of several quotes that made for interesting discussion about one’s personal philosophies. Below are my take-aways:
● We live in a culture that lavishes all of its rewards on what works, a culture that seems to value what works more than what matters…We exchange what we know how to do or what means most to us.
● Acting on what matters is, ultimately, a political stance, one whereby we declare we are accountable for the world around us and are willing to pursue what we define as important, independent of whether it is in demand or has market value.
● “What’s in it for me?” declares that for me to care about something larger, there must be a payoff. My commitment is up for barter. If my commitment is conditional on your response, or on your delivery of a promise, then it never really was a commitment. It was a deal.
● …Speed is indifferent to its destination.
● Culture does not really determine our actions or even explain why we do what we do. We are responsible for this. The culture is more like a presence in the shadows, ready to step in when we are not paying attention.
● It is the fact that we are free that creates unsolvable problems. The desire to see all problems as solvable is an assault on freedom. It is a belief that evil can be eradicated and that by doing so we create the false possibility that we can return to Paradise. Thus, we underestimate the power of evil and ignore the redemptive nature of the struggle.
● When cost and time become the very first questions, instead of just important ones, they create a culture of constraint, one in which the future is much like the past, only more efficient. Instead of creating a future, the economist, along with the engineer, focuses on predicting and controlling it.
Finally, below are questions that I could not definitively reconcile by the time I finished reading the book:
-Does failure ever happen without negative consequences (even if the consequence is only emotional)?
-Should there be separate spaces for that those things that you are paid to do versus those things that you’re passionate about? Does being paid for your passion negatively impact your values?