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29. “Too many people think only about getting results. The key to success, however, is to focus on the specific task at hand and not to worry about results.”

What do you think this piece of advice means, and do you think that it is, on the whole, worth following? Support your views with reasons and/or examples drawn from your own experience, observations, or reading.

This advice means fundamentally that if we focus our attention on the details of a project rather than on the end product (最后产物,最终产品), the result will be better than if we proceed the other way around (adv. 从相反方向). Admittedly, this advice has some merit; by focusing on the details at hand one is less likely to become discouraged by the daunting or overwhelming tasks ahead in an ambitious project. Otherwise, however, I think this advice is poor,

The central problem with this advice is that focusing attention completely on the task at hand without reference to how that task is related to the end product would be virtually impossible to do. The reason for this is simple. Without some reference to a goal or a result we would have no idea of what task to perform in the first place. As a result, the various tasks we engage in would be somewhat random and, in turn, no matter how diligent and careful we were in performing them the likelihood of producing worthwhile or successful end products would be minimal.

To ensure good results, one should instead take a balanced approach to the task at hand (adv. 在手边, 在附近, 即将到来). By a balanced approach I mean paying attention to both the desired result and the specific tasks that are required to achieve it. House building provides a good example of this approach. The house plan not only contains a rendering of the finished product but also contains detailed drawings and descriptions of each of the specific components required to ensure a successful result. Moreover, the order of the tasks is determined with reference to this result. In my estimation, virtually all successful projects proceed in the fashion illustrated in this example.

In sum, I don’t think that the advice offered in the statement is worth following. In my view, following this advice is more likely to produce unsuccessful results than successful ones.


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