Monday, April 11, 2016

Ingenuity or just laziness?

Recently on the Public Speaking Network group at LinkedIn Jay Lee pointed to a 2-1/2 minute YouTube video by Brian Tracy on Laziness. Brian’s original one is titled Something for Nothing: Human Nature & Laziness. It’s a good brief speech, although I’d have used the positive word ingenuity rather than the negative word laziness. Ingenuity is defined as:

“the quality of being clever, original, and inventive.”

Here is a transcript. Note that in the second paragraph he shifts from we to you, and also mistakenly says homos economicus  instead of homo economicus. Brian says:

“Hi. I’m Brian Tracy, and why do people do the things that they do. I’ve studied behavioral psychology for more than forty years. I’ve studied economics for three decades to try to figure out why people behave the way they do. And I’ve come to the conclusion that each person has certain characteristics which are called human nature. Whenever you hear somebody say well that’s just human nature, well that’s what they’re talking about. 

Now, the first characteristic of human nature is very easily understood. It’s probably the driving force of all behavior. We say that life is made up of the minutes and hours and days of your existence. Well, life is also made up of the amount of energy you have to expend. And since everybody thinks economically, they call human beings homos economicus, we all think economically, we try to conserve the amount of time and energy you spend to on any element in their life.

The result of this instinctive way of acting is laziness. Everyone is lazy. Laziness is a natural trait. It’s neither good nor bad. And it can be expressed in both a positive and negative way. 

The good side of laziness is when you’re finding faster, cheaper, and easier ways to accomplish your goals. This is the motive force behind all advancement in human civilization. Laziness, in a positive way, has driven improvements in technology, manufacturing, production, agriculture, transportation, medicine, education, always finding faster ways to get the same result with a lower expenditure top time energy and money. It’s the driving force of all progress.

Now there’s a dark side of laziness as well. This is the part that you’re familiar with. Laziness causes people to cut corners, to slack off, to waste time, and to contribute less. And the less you contribute, the less value your contribution has. Laziness is bad in this sense because it robs the potential of the individual who practices it. It undermines his possibilities in the present and undermines his hopes for the future. 

But laziness in and of itself is neutral. It is only the way in which it is expressed that allows one to make a positive or negative judgment about it. In our next session, I’ll talk about the next characteristic of human nature.”

One great example of human ingenuity is the spear-thrower or atlatl which we have been using for about the last 18,000 years. A web page from the World Atlatl Association about How to Throw shows a series of still photos and describes that:

“The throwing motion with an atlatl is the same as in throwing a ball or rock. The main difference is that when you snap your wrist at the end of a pitch, your wrist provides a short lever arm, while the same snap of the wrist while holding an atlatl gives you a long lever, like adding another arm joint.”

The atlatl image was adapted from one at Wikimedia Commons.

No comments: