Are YOU a craftsman?

2 12 2010

Here is an excellent article by Josh Kaufman over at The Personal MBA. Joshua’s groundbreaking new book on how to master the art of business (without spending $100k on a formal education) is due for release this month – pre-order it at Amazon.com. Enjoy.

– Quinton

I’ve been thinking a lot about identity recently. Who we think we are, and how we think we fit into the world has a massive impact on how we behave. Clanning and Convergence / Divergence are two of the greatest influences on our behavior, whether we realize it or not.

One of the reasons people perceive credentials as valuable is that they impart a sense of identity: “who I am.” Notice how people who have attended top business schools describe themselves: “I’m a Harvard MBA” or “I’m a Stanford MBA.” It’s not a statement of skill – it’s a statement of identity. Getting the certificate is a confirmation of group identity, which has a powerful influence on behavior. Enroll in business school, and you “become” an MBA.

As it turns out, education is not who we are; it’s what we do in the pursuit of something far more important. It’s a means to an end, not an end itself. It’s not really about what most businesspeople say they want: getting more money, getting promoted, becoming famous, etc. Sure, studying business can lead to these things, but that’s not really why we do it. Our studies are about something deeper: the joy of developing yourself and mastering new skills that you can use to live a productive and satisfying life. Perfecting the art, and improving the quality of your life as you pursue it, in an end in itself. In short, we’re craftsmen.

Our crafts may be very different – programming, engineering, design, marketing, sales, financial analysis, systems design, writing, manufacture, or teaching. Even so, we’re all on the same path: doing everything we can to perfect our craft, using every tool at our disposal. We are craftsmen.

I put together a statement of my personal philosophy, to better define for myself what I’m after. It ended up being a very clear statement of what craftsmanship is all about, so I’d like to share it with you:

The Craftsman’s Creed 

I am a craftsman. I am dedicated to perfecting the art and science of my craft, which I have chosen freely.

I am constantly, relentlessly searching for ways to improve my craft. I am dedicated to learning from the masters who have preceded me in every way I am able.

I create valuable things that other people want or need. I generously offer my work as a gift when it is wise, but my purpose is to help those who value my work enough to pay for what I have to offer. No one has an unlimited claim on my craft, knowledge, or the fruits of my effort. I work for people who value and support me.

I honestly promote what I have to offer, consistently and to the limit of my capabilities. I make no apologies for promoting my craft. I am proud of my work, and it is my duty and responsibility to reach people who may benefit from my craft. I can help them no other way.

I do my best to ensure that every single person who trusts me with their time, attention, or money is happy with their investment. If they are not, I will do whatever is in my power to do right by them without delay.

Skills are a craftsman’s credentials. I care more about a person’s character, what they know, and what they can do than where they grew up, where they went to school, or how many letters they have after their name. I choose to work with other craftsmen: people who are skilled, not simply schooled.

I respect other craftsmen, and I generously assist them however I’m able. I have no respect for the fool who searches for a way to enjoy the fruits of labor without effort, or the scoundrel who seeks to enrich himself by deluding others. Value, not wealth or fame, is the true measure of every craftsman.

I take good care of myself. My mind and body are the tools I use to advance my craft, so I take care of them. Rest and recovery are essential to my life: a worn-down tool is of no use at all.

I never stop pushing my limits. I am constantly testing and experimenting with new ways to expand my capabilities. It is my way of life.

I refuse to waste precious time and energy on trivial matters, trivial problems, and trivial people. I choose to focus only on the most important of demands: those that help me advance my craft or take care of the people who depend on me.

The world is an uncertain place, which I can not fully predict or control. Regardless, I will do everything in my power to prepare for every challenge and weather every storm. Nothing in this world is powerful enough to stop me from continuing to practice my craft.

Anything that I can do to improve my craft, I will do. This will keep me busy until the end of my days: a challenge I gladly accept. I am a craftsman, and always shall be.


Are you a Craftsman? If you’re not – if your goal is to amass some type of hedonistic pleasure using every shortcut available to you, you won’t find what you seek.

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Lance Armstrong: thoughts of a champion

15 05 2009

Live Strong!Fantastic article I found on Dumb Little Man. Enjoy! I’m off the annual Insight Insurance Brokers conference in the stunning Hunter Valley – leaving now and won’t be back till Sunday evening. So till then – have a great weekend!

– Quinton

***
Lance Armstrong is one of those remarkable humans that has a story strong enough to inspire others to take action. He is the type of person whose struggles make your common complaints appear minimal in comparison. If you haven’t heard Lance’s story, then you’ve seriously missed learning from one of the most dedicated and heroic figures of modern times.

Allow me to give you a quick update. In 1996, Lance was diagnosed with testicular cancer and was found to have tumors on both his brain and his lungs. After successful surgery, Lance didn’t just waddle through life and get to live a lifestyle similar to the healthiest of us, definitely not…he topped that by a long shot.

Since his surgery in 1996, he has gone on to:

Become a professional road racing cyclist

Win the Tour de France 7 times, breaking a record of 5 by Miguel Indurain and others

Not only did he win it, but he won it consecutively from 1999-2005

Named Worldwide sports athlete of the year in 1999

He won ESPN’s Best Male Athlete award 4 years in a row

…and so much more.
To be fair, if I continued the bullet-points they could really go on forever. Not only is the Tour de France one of the most grueling race courses in the world, but being able to win it 7 years in a row and after life saving surgery is nothing short of miraculous.

But as you are about to find out, Lance doesn’t believe in miracles. I have been so inspired by Lance’s dedication that I thought his lessons would be great advice to anyone looking to get the most out of life. Whether young or old, I think anyone can benefit from his outlook…

Know that Pain is Temporary
Sometimes, to get what we want out of life we really have to work for it; we have to battle through the hard times. I’m sure all of you reading this can relate to a time in your life where you had to literally push yourself to keep going.

However, you must also realize that pain is temporary so unless you have set impossible goals, your struggles and efforts won’t last forever. The results will come to you.

“Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever.”

Realize you Have Two Choices
Whether it’s seeing the positive in things versus the negative or deciding to go for something or not, there are a lot of great possibilities in life on the other side of two choices. For Lance, those two choices he decided to focus on were a great testament to his mindset: you either give up or you die trying.

“If children have the ability to ignore all odds and percentages, then maybe we can all learn from them. When you think about it, what other choice is there but to hope? We have two options, medically and emotionally: give up, or Fight Like Hell.”

Go for What You Want Now, Before it’s Too Late
We really never know what is around the corner. Our partner could become pregnant, there could be a family emergency where we need to lend funds, or we may even be in a critical health situation that physically stops us from completing our goals. We often wait till it is too late in life before we go for the things we want. We save money for our pensions and decide we are going to live then; the downside to that of course being that we are in our worst physical shape.

“Without the illness I would never have been forced to re-evaluate my life and my career. I know if I had not had cancer, I would not have won the Tour de France.”

Don’t focus on Potential Failures
One of the things that really gets me down in life is the people that manage to talk themselves out of brilliant ideas and situations before they’ve even tried them out – before they’ve even given things a shot. Sure, you could fail at whatever you would like to accomplish; you could fail miserably. On the other side of the coin, you could also burn your hand on the toaster tomorrow morning but you’re still going to put the bread in the machine.

Don’t look for reasons not to do something, look for everything that is going to help you succeed in doing it.

“If you worried about falling off the bike, you’d never get on.”

Put Everything into your Goals
In my opinion, half-hearted efforts are going to get half-hearted results. If you don’t put the time or effort into something, you aren’t going to get your desired outcome. Whatever it is that you want, literally immerse yourself in the life of having it. Study the subject, set practical hours to work on your goals and actually stick to your plan.

If you do feel like giving up, just appreciate that other people going for the same thing are feeling that as well, and while they might let those feelings take over them, you won’t.

I figure the faster I pedal, the faster I can retire.

Lance is one of those people I’ve admired since hearing his story and watching the dedication he puts into training, day in and day out. To me, he is the epitome of success where hard work generates results.