Honor the Work

John Cusack’s first movie The Sure Thing is one of my favorites. In one scene, Cusack’s college roommate is explaining his success bedding a string of random coeds; “It’s all about sincerity; once you can fake that the rest is easy.” Cusack’s character arc is all about his inherent sincerity and learning to let it through in place of the games he thinks he should play.

It’s a constant challenge to stop looking for shortcuts and do the work. This is my fundamental objection to the language of “connecting the dots” It perpetuates the mythology of shortcuts. It puts the focus on the final step, the reveal.

“Solving for pattern” shifts the emphasis productively. Wallowing in the phenomena to identify things that may or may not turn into a dot. Trying out different combinations, connections, and clusters to see whether they point to something interesting. Formulating and testing hypotheses that might explain what you are observing.

I grew up wanting to be a scientist; preferably a rocket scientist based on the dominance of science fiction in my reading habits. As I found myself drawn more and more to the human side of the equation, I questioned that dream. Things were too messy to fit into the narrow conception of science I had started with. I was confusing the pretty pictures with the underlying discipline of the process.

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