Not everything needs to be disrupted

Old Man in bookstoreYesterday I returned from a two-week vacation through Europe.   I had the opportunity to explore many of the ancient sites, works of art and small retail stores throughout France, Venice, Florence and Rome.


Like many tourists I spent countless hours walking down cobblestone streets, exploring small alleyways, hidden art studios, tiny bookstores, coffee shops and countless other simple, yet beautiful businesses. Much of what I experienced was very old and often inefficient and yet…


It was perfect exactly as it was.


It was OK watching the sunset just a bit longer as I waited for a cappuccino. I was fine stumbling on a book, that although it might not be the perfect book (i.e. fully researched online), it was the right book for the moment and perhaps brought me a bit of wisdom I had not expected, yet just what I needed.   I also enjoyed chatting with the 78-year-old bookstore owner as he shared his passion for a particular author, and his small store, which he had been running for 25 years with his wife and daughter.


Working in Silicon Valley I often feel that many people have the attitude that EVERYTHING needs to be “disrupted.”   As though the idea of changing something is in itself is of inherent value.   That everything must be, and should be “improved.”   Believe me, I’m not against change when it’s needed. I remember how hard it used to be to find a cab in San Francisco in the evening and give thanks when an Uber pulls up to my doorway right on time.  I understand that business must, because of the nature of our economic system, become more and more efficient.   But, with everything in life, there must be balance and perspective.


Just because some things should be changed doesn’t mean somehow all things should or that the mindset of constantly searching the world with a view on how to disrupt it is a healthy one. There is so much that is perfect as it is, so much that is beautiful in the chaos and disorder of our world.


Seeing so much ancient history in my recent adventure reminded me that we should be careful about what we change or don’t change.   It’s important to remember the end game.


Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.