Sunday, February 17, 2008

Slightly Foxed or Totally Stuffed?

"(There's) a hint of nostalgia for a time when business could be conducted in a wholly idiosyncratic manner, reliant on relationships that were honed over decades of familiarity (and possibly contempt) but that were nevertheless indulgent of the vagaries of all concerned."

I just read that in a piece by Ariane Bankes in the winter issue of the excellent Slightly Foxed. Ariane, it tells me in SF, used to be Eric Newby's editor and now runs a small arts festival in Derbyshire. Newby was a brilliant travel writer but Ariane is referring to his time in the family business of Lane & Newby (Mantle Manufacturers and Wholesale costumers) that he writes of in his book, 'Something Wholesale', which is about his time in his family's firm immediately after WW2.

In fact that one sentence encapsulates a lot about what is wrong with business today. The pursuit of the new, the different and the desire for change, for change's sake, seems to get in the way of much of what might be sensible. Part of the drive in this new way of business is brought about by an over reliance in the old adage of keeping one step ahead of your creditors. In this case those who might find you out. And it's not just business; isn't it what buggers politics? There’s little or no room these days for the idiosyncratic, let’s all be the same, dedicated followers of fashion every one of us.

Similarly the speed of modern living is not allowing people sufficient time to enjoy life. Work has never been top of most people's list of things to do, but if there were less speed, less haste, then maybe there would be less stress and more sense of achievement. The pursuit of change is camouflage for dealing with problems. Let's reinvent ourselves and we'll have moved on before we're caught out seems to be the mantra of modern living.

The secret of life might just be our ability to achieve our expectations. Today our expectations are continually being pushed just beyond our reach.

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