Go big or go lazy (or both)

I wrote about Ricardo Semler earlier, mentioning his tendency towards laziness. That is to say, I interpret his habit of trying to figure out each morning which of the things on his to-do list he can delegate or simply not do without getting into too much trouble. I call it ‘being lazy’, a trend-sensitive management adept would probably call it ‘being lean‘. Of course, I am exaggerating. Semler can’t be as lazy as he lets on. No successful business builds itself – it takes blood, sweat and tears. But apparently, some people are conservative in their bodily-fluid shedding. Let’s go for the hyperbole and call it laziness.

Then, the other day, I stumbled across this article about a Japanese philosophy student called Netaro whose lifestyle is just about the opposite of Semler’s. Netaro apparently lives in a shed he built himself or in a tiny trailer hooked up to a travels the country (or perhaps the world, by now?) on a moped on which he travels the country. His personal belongings consist of a solar-powered laptop, a mobile phone, a sleeping bag and apparently not much more than that.

Granted, both Netaro and Semler prefer to design their own houses, so there’s a commonality there. Sure, Semler’s contraptions make up in elaborateness and airiness what Netaro’s lack in, well, durability and sturdiness, I imagine. Apart from that, these men appear to live totally different lives.

Still, I like to think that one characteristic in particular creates some kinship. Their daily lives are to a large extent shaped by their characteristic laziness. In the case of Semler, his laziness results in a tendency to delegate effectively. He avoids doing work himself – but a lot of it still gets done and contributes (I suppose) to the growth of his business.

Netaro’s laziness is of course a result of my interpretation more than it is real – just like in Semler’s case. Still, for sake of the argument, let’s assume that Netaro is lazy too, in a way. In that case, his laziness results in a totally different approach. Netaro seems to argue that if you don’t really really need something, then simply go without it. Don’t work yous *ss off to pay the mortgage for a huge house if a small shed will keep you dry too.

It’s interesting to see that essentially the same characteristic, laziness, results in exactly opposite results. Apparently, laziness can result in a tiny environmental footprint. Or it can build a vast empire. I’m going to hold on to that thought. Let’s see if I can build a billion-dollar business by doing nothing. And if that plan falls through, I can still argue that I am simply taking a fashionably lean approach to living life.

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