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  • As my time at school came to a close, all my efforts were put into aiming for a career in computing. Back in the mid 70's there were no PC's, no smartphones, no laptops. All computers were big hunks of steel and electronics. Working with them was seen as a black art, and I understood they were The Future.

    However, despite my qualifications, this path was closed to me. I couldn't get a job without experience, I couldn't get experience without a job. Catch 22.

    So, I decided to follow my heart rather than my head. I aimed high and applied to join the Air Force as a pilot. I didn't care what, jets, cargo, helicopters just as long as I could fly. I flunked at the first stage. The Medical. My eyesight wasn't good enough to allow me to fly any sort of aircraft. But there were still other opportunities open to me. If I couldn't fly planes, at least I could work on them.

    After yet more tests and interviews, my application was successful, and I was on my way to being an Aircraft Engineer. Pirsig's book, in one form or another has always been with me, but it was that underlying theme of Quality that drove me forwards.

    It was after I had completed my 12 years military service that I eventually took a sideways step back onto my original career path. My last 2 years in the Service was spent developing a specific type of PC based stock accounting system. My senior officers knew I still had an aptitude and ability with computers, so I was given this as my last task before leaving. This is how I gained the experience I needed to get into the industry I now work in.

    It was several years after I changed careers that I came across another book. This one wasn't as life changing, but it did affirm elements of Pirsigs book. It was by Phillip B. Crosby and is entitled 'Quality is Free'.

    The concept was like a sledgehammer blow to the head. I was instantly taken back to the passage in Zen that discussed the lazy, goofing mechanics. Everything fell into place. Zen, engineering, computing, the constant goal of quality. Quality is free. It does not cost anything to do something right first time.

    All the pieces fell into place. How many times have you bought something that wasn't right fist time, something that was broken when you took it out of the box, or it failed after a while, or a repair that was carried out that didn't fix it?

    Quality is free. There is a cost to fixing something up to the standard it should have been in the first place, time, money, materials.

    It costs nothing to do it right first time. Quality, Zen, Art, all in one.
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