Category Archives: Pride

Think Like an Immigrant / Act Like an Artisan

I was reading an article the other day about the current tough economic times. It is difficult these days to read anything that does not somehow reference these tough economic times. I guess the same is true about this Blog article.

The article referred to the current situation as a “Balance Sheet” recession. The reference here was that everyone (businesses and individuals included) has racked up so much debt by previously buying things that they really couldn’t afford, and put it on their respective balance sheets that no one can borrow any more money to spend on consumption. With our economy based on 70% consumer purchases, this has put a pinch on demand as people (and companies) come to grips with their debts (and hopefully trying to pay them off). This reduced consumer demand has in turn caused the stagnation in growth needed to cause and drive companies to create jobs.

This in itself was not news. I think we have all felt the pain of the last few years in one form or another. What I did take away from the article and what I am addressing here were some of the fundamental mind set changes that were proposed to help people deal with the Balance Sheet recession. I thought they were equally if not more so applicable to running businesses, and probably jobs in general.

  1. Think Like an Immigrant.

Historically immigrants have come to this country with very little. They came with no sense of entitlement. They did not come expecting to be given anything…other than the opportunity or chance to do better than where they were.

It seems we may be starting to see this approach to our jobs (after 10 years of tougher economic times) but it appears that we may still have a ways to go. We need to remember that once we have a Job, it is not a “given”. It must be continually “earned”. We are not entitled to that job, or any other job for that matter. Like the immigrant we are entitled to the opportunity or chance to do better. If we don’t do better, then we may lose the opportunity, or job.

It is a little bit different world that we now live and work in, then it was before. We may need a little bit different mindset if we are to be successful in it.

  1. Act Like an Artisan.

Artisans have normally been considered the one-off and hand-made makers of goods. They did not mass produce anything, and their quality was considered a cut above. I am something of a would-be musician, and hand-made instruments made by artisan-luthiers are far more desirable (and expensive) than the production line models of the big manufacturers. They put their name on their output and take tremendous pride in what they make.

We need to start thinking like artisans in the businesses that we have. We need to take the sort of pride in our work that artisans take in their work, in whatever we do. It is not the job that we have been assigned by the boss. It is our job. It is a slight difference in approach but one that makes a significant difference in how you approach it and what you produce. If you had to sign your name, and your name only, to everything that you produced (reports, presentations, etc.), and then be judged by each one of them, would you do them differently?

An artisan is judged each time he creates a product by the product he has created.

I don’t want to sound overly dramatic, and I don’t want to intimate that everyone feels they are entitled and that no one takes pride in their work. That is clearly not the case. I do however think that there is merit in both refreshing our own mindsets, and those of our associates, of how we should be thinking about our jobs, and the pride that we should all be taking in the job we do.

Business Without OCD

I play bass guitar. I would like to call myself a musician, but that would indicate that I have more talent for it than I do. I do appreciate excellent musical instruments though. I even own some. I was out on the web looking at custom made instruments when I came across a luthier (guitar maker) who had an interesting blog on his web site.

He asked the question about how difficult it must be to be in business (in his case making instruments) and to NOT have OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). Obviously I was hooked and had to read further.

He brought out the (not almost) obsessive attention to detail that he felt about his work. He asked the question about how it felt when “good enough” was in fact good enough, even when you knew you could do it better. What came through was the pride he felt in the works he created. The compulsion he felt to not just get it done, but to get it done to the very best of his ability.

He questioned how hard it must be for other people to work and produce without that obsession with detail and that compulsion to do their absolute best at whatever they are doing. At this point he had struck a significant chord with me.

Please pardon the PUN, I couldn’t resist.

At this point I was interested  in his instruments. He seemed like my kind of guy. I read further. It was at this point that he went to a level that I just couldn’t go. He challenged his prospective customers to prove to him that they were worthy of his instruments. What could I say? I am really not that good a musician. I don’t know how I would have reacted if he had paraphrased the Soup-Nazi character on Seinfeld and said:

“No. No guitar for you.”

I did learn about what kind of pride in ones work, and the attention to detail that exists, and that how those things are key to creating the best product one is capable of. I’ll keep practicing and maybe I will get one of his instruments later.

It also reemphasized what I already knew about attention to detail and pride in ones work. We all know it, but on occasion it is still good to hear it again.

I just won’t ask my boss to prove that he is worthy of my output………