Spock. Kirk. McCoy.

Hastig: hasty, impatient: To act rashly without having considered the consequences; unsettled, jumpy, nervous.

Eile mit Weile translates roughly “take your time when moving quickly”. The Germans believe that good work can be completed sooner by taking your time, working thoroughly, avoiding mistakes whose correction will require more time. Eile mit Weile is for the Germans not a contradiction in terms but a proven approach.

Another common figure of speech in German is mit dem Kopf durch die Wand, literally to try to go through the wall with your head. It signals a lack of sophistication, of imagination, of the ability to navigate around barriers. Those who attempt mit dem Kopf durch die Wand are seen as stubborn, unreflective, rough, intellectually lazy. These are not compliments in the German culture.

Geduld: patience; to bear, to carry; calm and self-controlled acceptance of something which is uncomfortable or could take a long time. Geduld – patience – is required especially in professions whose results come at a much later time. Geduld is also required when work involves much trial and error.

Geduld is critical to being a parent. It is particularly important in any kind of research and development, where most experiments fail. Artists and musicians have to be patient people in order to stay focused over many years of training. Investigators also have to possess Geduld, knowing that many cases go either unsolved or are solved after years of painstaking work.

Vorbereiten: to prepare: to orient oneself to something; to make oneself capable; to complete necessary work ahead of time, in anticipation of; to prepare or develop oneself.

Germans plan. They place great value on preparation. Was man im Kopf nicht hat, muss man in den Füssen haben translates roughly as “What one doesn‘t have in their head, they need to have in their feet”, meaning those who are unprepared have to hustle here and there in order to complete their tasks.

Being unprepared slows down the work of the other colleagues, threatens the execution of the overall plan, forces a rescheduling of work results. Germans feel very uncomfortable when a plan is poorly executed.

Before a German begins a specific task the tools have been laid out, the job description and requirements have been thoroughly read, all the necessary pieces have been assembled, the work plan is pinned on the wall above the workbench, so to speak. The work is then completed in a timely fashion and with an eye on quality.

This is the approach of a master artisan in his shop, of a German Hausfrau in the kitchen, of a German professor at the university. Rarely does that professor need to scurry back to his office in order to get a certain book or paper. Disorganization is a sign of being unzuverläßig, unreliable. What was he thinking that he forgot the book? Is he really serious about his work? How reliable is someone who doesn’t prepare their work?


In his blogpost Stoicism & Star Trek: Think like Spock – Act like Kirk Jen Farren at the University of Exeter writes:

„Gene Roddenberry (creator of Startrek) says that he deliberately: ‘Took the perfect person and divided him into three, the administrative courageous part in the Captain (Kirk), the logical part in the Science Officer (Spock) and the humanist part in the Doctor (McCoy).’“

Farren then quotes Stephen Fry: „You have the Captain in the middle, who is trying to balance both his humanity and his reason. And on his left shoulder, you have the appetitive, physical Dr. McCoy. And on his right shoulder you have Spock, who is all reason. And they are both flawed, because they don’t balance the two, and they’re at war with each other, McCoy is always having a go at Spock. And Kirk is in the middle, representing the perfect solution.“

Kirk tries to balance emotion and reason, but he never loses sight of taking action. His choices and actions make him take risks for the common welfare, even when the purely logical thing might be to do nothing. In the words of Captain Kirk himself: ‘Gentlemen, we’re debating in a vacuum. Let’s go get some answers.“

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