Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A madness to my method

I don’t know if you remember but once upon a time around the60’s, 70’s Japan had an outburst of development that made it into an economical superpower.
From the electronics to car manufacturing they use the same smilingly basic formula:
They would take the best there was on the market at that time (let’s say the best car engine from Mercedes, best suspension from Peugeot, best style from Ferrari etc) change and improve the original designs and make a Japanese car, like the Nissan Z80.

I don’t know if my data is 100% correct but the idea behind it is correct.
I have a Nissan Maxima I bought 13 years ago and a Quest minivan I bought a year ago.
They both have the same V6 engine that Mercedes sport cars had 30 years ago – of course with more improvements.
Which brings me to the next point:

The way they evolve is incremental – Let’s keep the Nissan example.
Every year they change the basic model a little bit.
If the change turns out to be good they keep it but if the change turns out to be bad they drop it and try something else.
But here is the point:
The changes are so minute that the overall quality of the car doesn’t go down the toilet.

Unlike the Japanese, the way we Americans build cars is starting from scratch.
I have a friend that worked for a Ford dealership when Ford created the Ford Taurus.
Ford Taurus became an overnight success, best selling sedan 3 years in a row – beating up Toyota, Honda, Nissan and all the other American sedans.
But then they change the Taurus and the new model was so radically different than the first one, that nobody wanted to buy it.
Ford Taurus lost the market and it never recovered.

That is true for so many other successful cars Detroit built, like Thunderbird, Corvette and Mustang, cars that have become classics but then have lost the market by redesigning to inferior models.

What is car building has to do with Zen, you may ask.
Well, if you look at how nature evolves it looks like the Japanese way.
Nature doesn’t start a new animal from scratch.
Nature improves by small amounts and keeps the successes and discards the failures.
Sounds pretty simple and pretty logical, doesn’t it?

Well, it might be the logical way of life but if you look at my life, (and probable at your life as well) my life looks more like the American way of doing business then the natural way of evolution.
My life it is not a continuous organic growth but rather a hap hazard trial and error enterprise.
Success is fallowed by total disaster followed by starting again from scratch, trying something new and different, followed by another disaster.
And I am not talking only about financial problems; I am talking all aspects of my life, including career and relationships.

My life always seemed to have a plan but now looking in retrospective it never had the right method.
Although my spirituality has changed to Zen Buddhism my life, my actions are left behind to the crash and burn, trial by error philosophy.


C. Om said...

I have had ups and downs myself. One thing I can say is that we often continue to struggle through the same kinds of challenges until we get it. We might get an "a-ha" moment that totally changes that particular situation for good.

I do feel that everything happens for the best and there is a method to the madness. I could give you a long list of things that did not go the way I wanted at the time, but I am grateful for them because they have brought me to where I am now. From the outside looking in, I am not successful by the standards of most, but I have gained a perspective that is priceless and most of the time, I couldn't feel any better if I was filthy rich.:-)

Ted Bagley said...

Nature. The big "It" we want to change and the cry when there is to much. For "Nature does not exist, but there is still "It".

Talon said...

Quality of life is as important as it is in crafting a good car. In the end, it's great to acknowledge the missteps and take action to not repeat the same ones (though no doubt others will occur), but it's also important not to beat yourself up on reaching a point in your journey which could only occur because of who you are and the choices you made to arrive at exactly the place you are now.

I also think there are many instances when a complete re-build is necessary. A good foundation is essential.

Mark said...

I love your analogy of the cars! This is great, yes change is a process and is incremental when done in line with nature. Excellent post! Brilliant!

Brigit said...

I've never looked at it like that. Much food for thought. Thankyou.

Anitha said...

Beautiful example. Yep, my life was also designed the American way, though it would have done well with the Japanese method. And yes, even i lost my niche by aping inferior models ;)