Conversations For Transformation: Essays Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

Conversations For Transformation

Essays By Laurence Platt

Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

And More


Workability II

Silverado Country Club, Napa Valley, California, USA

March 17, 2009



This essay, Workability II, is the third in a septology on Workability: Conversations For Transformation receives its one hundred and fifty thousandth view with the publishing of Workability II.



What's "workability"?

What am I saying exactly when I say something, an event, a project, a person  is imbued with a quality I call workability?  ie when I assert  or aver  something works?

I'm setting aside, at least for now, the superficial, obvious  descriptors for workability. This lightbulb  works, that one doesn't. This combination  works to open the lock, that one doesn't. These descriptors for workability imply functionality.

I'm also setting aside, at least for now, descriptors for workability which are simply pragmatic. It works to stop at red lights  rather than at green ones. It works to floss. It works to pay taxes on time.

And I'm also setting aside, at least for now, descriptors for workability which are obviously common sense. It works to hold your breath  under water. It works to keep your fingers off the hot stove.

Instead I'd like to consider just one particular descriptor for workability which is all of functional and pragmatic and (even if in hindsight)  common sense and more ie and then some. The rustic design of her English country garden works. The way he arranges his desk works. Her novel approach to accounting really works. That  shirt with this  pair of jeans works  on you. Even the seemingly dictatorial "The way things work  around here is we do it my  way or we don't do it at all!" works.

This conversation isn't about explaining how  things work. Neither is it about making  things work. Nor is it about learning  to make things work. All the above may or may not be present when things work ie when workability  is present. And even if some or all the above are present when workability  is present, I assert none of the above  are what makes workability  work. In fact it's the other way around: workability must be present prior  to any of the above. Paradoxically workability isn't necessarily a result of any of the above - and indeed it might be.

Instead I assert what workability is, is this:

Workability is a context. When workability is present, a certain context  is present. Conversely when workability isn't present, this certain context  is absent. When things work, a certain context  is present. Conversely when things don't work, this same context  is absent ... AND  ... for you to make things work, you must bring this certain context  forth. This context, being present, is what has things work. In other words, I assert workability is workability  precisely because and only because this certain context  is present when things work and when things are made to work.

Let's start with what workability isn't.

Workability isn't going through the motions. The statement "I'm only doing my job!"  isn't workability. Whenever, if ever you resort to saying "I'm only doing my job!", it's almost classic you probably aren't.

Let's say, for argument's sake, your job is to take a child to the park to play on the swings, slides, and merry-go-rounds. The child plays, and at some point, when you turn away for a moment, the child gets lost in the crowd. You say "I'm only doing my job! My job is to take the child to the park to play, but the child ran away by himself and got lost. It's not my fault. I'm only doing my job!".

But that's exactly what you're not  doing - your job. Let's be clear about this. It's not the child getting lost which is you not doing your job. It's your assertion  "I'm only doing my job!" which is you not doing your job. Said another way, "I'm only doing my job!" doesn't work.

What doesn't work ie what's missing is workability. What's missing is the context  of workability, the context for  workability. What's missing is who you really are like a context, like a possibility. When who you really are is present like a context, like a possibility, then and only then things work. When you bring forth, when you bring to the party  who you really are like a context, like a possibility, then and only then things work.

Workability is present any time you bring forth who you really are like a context, like a possibility. In order to make things work, you first have to bring forth who you really are like a context, like a possibility.

The rustic design of her English country garden works  because it supports who you really are being present like a context, like a possibility ... AND  ... because when she designed it, she brought forth who she really is like a context, like a possibility. The way he arranges his desk works  because when he arranges it, he brings forth who he really is like a context, like a possibility. Her novel approach to accounting really works  because when she approaches accounting, she brings forth who she really is like a context, like a possibility. That  shirt with this  pair of jeans works  on you because they support you bringing forth who you really are like a context, like a possibility. Even the seemingly dictatorial "The way things work  around here is we do it my  way or we don't do it at all!" works  because essentially, although it may not seem obvious at first, it supports you bringing forth who you really are like a context, like a possibility.

That's my thesis. It's not intended to be "the truth". Rather it's intended to be a way of getting to what works  ie as a way of coming to grips with workability.

Please try it on for size.



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