Time invested is worth a lot

Posted 2019-08-12

My thoughts on invested time and inventions are below.

On a side note, I do want to acknowledge that many of you probably are not too excited about most these posts, and I apologize for that. My day job and I just changed ways so I might have more time in the near future, but I haven't decided what I want to do with it yet, and I'm not sure any of it will be of interest to you all.

If you have requests, please email me (adam.ruppe@gmail.com) ideas and maybe it'll spark something.

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A random thought

I wanted to share with you all a thought about invested work and knowledge today. Looking at just time worked isn't very instructive - having the appropriate tools makes a big difference, as does invested time before in training and experience.

Last week, I had some trouble with my bicycle. I spent about an hour and got it... almost fixed, but frustratingly still not quite there. I instead took it to the local mechanic and he fixed it correctly in about ten minutes.

I probably could have achieved the same result... if I spent another hour or two on it. As such, I feel he could have perfectly fairly billed me for 2 hours; the 15 mins there was just the visible tip of an iceberg of underlying skill. The value he delivered to me was saving me a bunch of frustration; the fact that he could do it so quickly in no way reduces what it was worth to me. And the reason he could do it quickly is that he already spent a lot of time in the past fixing similar problems on other people's bikes and getting to know all the underlying principles.

Similarly, when you invent something new, how much of the invention is really yours? I sometimes see people ask why weren't bicycles invented hundreds of years sooner; they seem like such simple machines. But the truth is there's a lot of complex parts in there. Building a chain that doesn't break requires metallurgy that wasn't invented till the 1800's.. tires require a rubber process that again, wasn't invented until the 1800's. The invention of the bicycle wasn't held back by some missing genius entrepreneur, instead it was more waiting for society as a whole to lay the foundation that enabled it.

So by all means, appreciate the skill of people who have spent the time honing their craft, but it is also important to recognize that we can all see as far as we do - even the best of us - because we are standing on the shoulders of giants.

Basically everything we are and do is just the visible tip of a world-sized iceberg.