Virtù

In Project Management, there are three categories for any and all relevant events.

Foreseen Foreseen: These are the obstacles you know you need to face and encounter. Let us say you are the PM for creating a building. The FF’s would range from drawing up plans correctly to doing the bidding to contractors.

Foreseen Unforeseen: These are obstacles you know you might have to face. Continuing our analogy, some FU’s would be delays in material shipments, certain important people calling in sick and not completing their task on time.

Unforeseen Unforeseen: These are obstacles that are equivalent to what legal terms call “acts of god“. A conventional way of thinking about UU’s are events which you cannot be held accountable for: an arsonist or hurricane destroyed your stuff; there’s no possible way you could deal with it.

There are legitimate criticisms of that way of defining unforeseens though: if something could possibly be thought of, then it’s technically not unforeseen. If you say, start a building project in Florida in the summer, you can’t really say that you didn’t know it was cyclone season. Whether or not you can be held accountable for it (i.e. “whether or not other people can blame you for it”) is a different matter that I do not care to get into; the point stands however that it is more correct than not to say a builder in those circumstances cannot call hurricanes an unforeseen circumstance.

If it was possible for other people to deal with unforeseens, whether of the first or second category, you can bet they’d be in high demand. If it was possible for most people to deal with unforeseens and you’re the only one that can’t, it’s almost guaranteed you won’t be pitied (unless you’re a woman). This can be illustrated positively and negatively. Zombie Apocalypse is a pretty easy negative example – if you’re the only group in the area that had the foresight to store food or start a small backyard farm, people will either serve you or steal your stuff. Positive is harder to see, for it requires the imagination of things that didn’t happen, but could have happened. In other words, it requires empathy (for whatever reason this society/culture does not have it as a standard in any aspect). Armed citizen stops robbery is a fairly common occurrence; “in situations where seconds matter the police are only minutes away”. Always having a first aid kit around or having a helmet on is another. Spare tires. General maintenance on anything. The concept here is called “safety”, but the significance of it – that is to say, the reason why safety is significant – is not realized without empathy.

The separation of FF’s from FU’s is called focusing and prioritizing – while there are minor things that will come up, you are not doing things optimally if your focus is not on the main thing.

The consolidation of FU’s and UU’s is called discipline. Etiquette didn’t arise from chaos just because it feels good; it’s used because it’s an optimal strategy both for interacting with other people and keeping the correct things in focus in your own mind. Strict standards anywhere don’t exist just because the people in power feel like they want to lord it over their underlings; they exist because fewer strategies are easier to deal with than multiple strategies, and the strict standards in place are the best at dealing with FF’s, FU’s, and UU’s.

Martial arts exist not because punching air or beanbags in a certain way looks macho, but because if necessary, the principle understood through repetition could easily be modified only slightly to become very efficient at combat in any situation. This is contrasted to people who don’t train and just fight when they need to. Sure, perhaps the martial arts student has only practiced hitting in certain places and in certain ways – but he’s really fucking good at hitting those places in those ways. You may think of kicking the back of their knee, up their crotch, or poking their eyeballs out. The problem there though is that you can’t do what you’re thinking. Life isn’t a videogame, your muscles don’t move the way you want to just because you want them to. Easiest example is illustrated by that knife game – you have your hand splayed out, and your goal with your knife in your other hand is to stab the spaces inbetween your fingers back and forth as fast as you can. If you’re fighting a martial arts student, you may think of dirtier ways to fight, but he’ll beat your ass. If he starts thinking of the ways you think of he might be sloppy at it at first, but he’ll learn fast and it’ll definitely hurt a hell of a lot harder than any of your I-don’t-go-to-the-gym-but-aha-I’m-smarter-than-you! punches.

When keeping the main thing the main thing, everything else goes into one category. Rather than UU’s being “Fuck, i need to deal with this?”, it’s simply something else to get aside so the main thing can get done.

Only a certain set of perspectives, beliefs, and behavior patterns can truly merge FU’s and UU’s. Blaming people for things isn’t one. Getting places via the mindset of avoiding things isn’t one. Doing things balls to the wall is. Acting with the belief that any errors caused by audacity can be fixed by more audacity is.

This blog is where I figure out what that set is.

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5 thoughts on “Virtù

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