Thursday, May 28, 2009

(click to enlarge)
Curiosity is a human trait.

The number of people who are actually ON the cutting edge of a profession, a sales position, a social studies job, or whatever are very few.

I asked in an open forum a few months ago "Why should I train my competition?" That being a question which can be applied to almost any business or profession. Though I felt it was a rhetorical question, I was a little curious about what was going on in people's minds when they wanted to come to me and "be my apprentice". (It happens every every single person on that blacksmithing forum.)

The answers were quite illuminating, and I am glad I asked it. Generally speaking, the blacksmiths were united in their answers which were a variation on "I'll do it if I get paid/praised/laid." The students however seemed to be of three camps....

1) So that the skills don't get lost to perpetuity forever,

2) so that they could massage an arts and crafts bump to do a hobby, and

3) to learn enough that that they could do this as a living instead of working at the fast food franchise.

Answer 2 and 3 were expected and are totally praiseworthy of course, but I was a little surprised at the large number who answered with number one.Its kind of funny that none of the professional blacksmiths actually said "I want to teach this because otherwise the information will be lost forever." I don't think any blacksmith, metal worker, or pretty much any professional is actually on the "cutting edge" of even re-discovered information. Perhaps people on the outside of the trade feel that that continually developing a new skill set is analagous to being on the "cutting edge", that if there are no new discoveries in the world, there are at least new discoveries in their own life.

It is really not too hard to imagine a black smith or a metalworker who does such stunning work that it stands out like Paul Anka writing and singing "My Way" . We all want to experience that flash of genius. I fear most of us will simply have to accept the metalworking equivalent of singing in the shower. The important thing, of course, is just roll up your sleeves and get out there and DO IT. Even a shower song is better than no song at all.


Jennifer said...

"The important thing, of course, is just roll up your sleeves and get out there and DO IT. Even a shower song is better than no song at all"


Cerulean Bill said...

Most people have jobs, not careers. They likely don't think about what they do during the day when they're not doing it, because, though they may want to keep doing it, they're not invested in the concept of the task. It's 'just a job', better than some, not as good as others. People who have careers do think about what they've done that day, because they want to shape something with the arc of their days, whether it's being known as the best in what they do or some other, more personal, standard. Whatever the criterion, they've inculcated it into themselves, which puts them a notch above the people who 'just have a job'.

But how to get to that golden plateau?

The article about not following your passion (because you don't have a passion) resonated with me because I've never felt that I had one. All of the 'how to find a job' articles that said things like 'think about something you did once and really liked, things that excited you enough that you could be passionate about them' never made it for me because the things I would think of didn't seem at all plausible as actual jobs. I really liked standing on the launch gantry of an Atlas rocket; I really liked flying upside down in a T-38; I really liked qualifying for Mensa. How does that translate into a job, let alone a career? I know, what they're proposing is a form of brainstorming, where you come up with any idea, and later, in the cool light of day, winnow them done to the plausible ones, trying to elicit the core that strikes sparks from your soul. When I winnowed, I'd end up with an empty table. Well, that was fun.

So when the article said to immerse yourself in what you do, whatever it is, get to the heart of it, and perhaps that will, all unstructured, become your passion, I thought Yeah, that makes sense. It still implies that you have to be doing something that you at least like, but so long as that's the case, perhaps passion can grow from it. Back-asswards from the classic model, but heck: if it works.....

And if not, there's always fast food. Except -- wasn't Ray Kroc passionate about that?

STAG said...

When I joined the military, they chose a trade for us, pretty much at random. A case of "well, here's a warm body, we need airplane mechanics this week. you will do." And a lot of people ended up in trades (jobs) that they had no preparation for.
Here is where the odd thing people got more and more "into" their trades, they became protective of it, and proprietory towards it. They looked at "their" trade as being superior to all other trades, sometimes to the point of developing an attitude inimicable to team work. They became good at it, and in a very short time, could not even imagine leaving that trade and picking up with one of the other "inferior" trades.

I think it takes an exceptional person to decide to switch trades or profession.