My wife and I have a sixteen-year-old son. Those who have, or have had a sixteen-year-old in modern times understand that this generation, not so unlike the prior one, tend to think they know everything while also continuously looking for the easiest way to do things. As a parent of a sixteen-year-old I find this to be a great lesson in the futility of searching for the easiest path. Conversely I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the longest path is necessarily the right path, rather that when our first objective is to make things easier, we are missing the point.
So here’s the story.
My wife and I do not use a microwave, as we do not believe it is a healthful way of heating or cooking food, though our young ones do not necessarily subscribe to this notion. Presently we have a microwave in the basement, stored over the summer and designated for our eighteen-year-old daughter’s college dorm in August. So our 16-year-old decides he’s going to make a dish for himself by following a recipe that calls for the use of a microwave, and he asks us how he can make it without a microwave.
We suggested a couple alternatives, neither of which he was favorable to, and his response was to use the microwave in the basement, because…are you ready for this…“It’s easier.” So he hauls the microwave up from the basement, clears space on the counter, plugs it in, heats his food, and then hauls it back down to the basement. In his mind this is easier than simply heating in the oven or on the stove; his objective being to make things “easy.” In fact he was so focused on making things easy that arguably he made it more complicated.
An alternative could have been to explore the joy of cooking food and making something tasty or as many restaurateurs strive for, to make great food and be highly efficient about it. At least in their case there is some balance between the joy of food and the serving of food that people love together with efficiency.
Many of the great thought leaders are repeatedly illustrating for us that when we focus single-mindedly on increasing efficiencies and cutting costs, that we lose focus on our purpose for being in business in the first place. If we are going to do business and do it well, we must start with the joy for what it is we are doing, passion for the results we produce, and the enjoyment our customers and clients receive from it. When it’s all about efficiencies and profit we might as well nuke everything in the microwave just to save time.
P.S. On the topic of communication: We also tried to advise our son to make sure to use the jalapeno salsa versus the habanero salsa, advice to which he failed to heed. So halfway through the eating of his dish, with eyes watering and sinuses draining, he had to call it quits.