'Culture of Excellence' and the Individual

What do you think of it?

I believe that any society that does not voluntarily reward quality where it seems to be unrewarded will eventually become obsolete and will rust to death. Nothing is free. If you don’t pay for it now, you’ll indirectly pay (perhaps more) for it later.The statement might seem very obvious to begin with but it involves every individual including you.

Let me start by explaining the statement: Those who are in the habit of offering the best quality and continually improving upon it do it for its own sake. They enjoy it and that is why they do it. When they don’t get paid for it, they do not necessarily stop and move on. They either get frustrated and do things ordinarily, which certainly leads to a drop in productivity, or they continue doing things their way even though the market does not pay them, which means that they become inefficient and are driven out by more efficient people who might not bother about quality enhancement. Thus, we get people who are not into quality and the society becomes stagnant. The times keep changing, and this stagnant society cannot keep up with the change. It eventually dies out and transforms itself.

Now let me give you some ideas of what this has to do with you:

  1. You know that waiter at that restaurant who did a pretty good job and didn’t get a good tip? He could have just stuck to the rules and served you like any other guy, but he tried to make it amazing for you. In a culture which does not tip every once in a while at least, these guys fade out or become inefficient. That waiter might continue doing his job that way, but the other waiters get less tired after doing their jobs and can perhaps earn some extra bucks doing side jobs while this guy does nothing. New waiters see this and are discouraged from offering quality even before the realise the joy in doing it. Nothing is free. If you don’t pay for it now, you’ll indirectly pay (perhaps more) for it later.

Lesson: Tip when you are impressed with some one’s service.

  1. Feel the air around you. Most probably, it was much fresher 20 years back. No body’s been rewarding this quality in the environment for some time, and we’ve been feeling the results.

Lesson: Consciously do something for the environment. It is unpaid quality and needs to be rewarded.

  1. Sportsmen: Young amateur level sportsmen often struggle very hard without reward to improve their game and very often have to give it up because of a lack of funding. Try and help them if you can. Remember, it’s the pursuit of excellence that matters, not the field. The benefits of all quality seeking are highly transferable across fields.

Lesson: Try and help budding sportsmen, artists and scholars when possible.

*I know that what I am saying is well covered by that body of thought under ‘positive externalities’ in economics, but I am concerned with solving that problem on an individual level here, not theorise about it and suggest policy decisions.

I have also been thinking about the open source software movement in this context, but I cannot get a result yet.