Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Professionalism is Craftsmanship: Years of Effort, Dedication and Experience


Professionalism is the same as craftsmanship: work on it and strive for it everyday and, one day, those specialized skills will reward you handsomely. 

As we get older, we must strive for perfection in particular skills as we will never be able to beat mass production like McDonald's. 

I remember when I was a junior high school student. I loved wood shop class and would later go on, with the help of great teachers in high school, to build furniture that won awards at the State Fair (twice in fact! - yes, I was a geek, why do you ask?) 


In 1973, when other kids were making napkin holders in wood shop class, I was making stuff like this French Provincial end table. I won a Blue Ribbon (whatever that means!) at the State fair for this one when I was a sophomore in high school. This table still sits in my living room as sturdy as the day it was built (plus a few nicks and scratches). I'm expecting that this will be an antique in my son's living room someday.


One day, when I was in seventh grade, I asked my wood shop teacher (forget his name) how to make a brace for a table leg that had a dovetail. 

The instructor grabbed the piece of wood I had and said, "You make a 3/8 inch cut along this line." He took a pencil and instantly drew a straight line along the piece of wood, without a ruler or without checking size, or anything; he just scratched it off, just like that, in the blink of an eye, with the pencil right then and there. Then he handed the piece of wood back to me. 

I looked at the wood in confusion. I wondered why he drew a pencil line on my piece of wood? I said, 

"Why did you draw this line?" 

He replied, "I said, 3/8 of an inch." 

"How do you know this is straight and it is 3/8 of an inch?" I asked incredulously. 

He looked at me straight in the eye and said, "Years of experience, young man." Then he walked away. 

I went to my workspace and used a ruler to check the line he had drawn: I was awestruck! It was perfectly straight and 3/8 of an inch all along the breadth of the piece of wood in which he shot off that line seemingly without a thought. 

I was astounded!

Truly, professionalism comes with years of dedication, effort and experience. 

2 comments:

Anime Lovers said...

I want to travel in Japan!! I like Japanese culture and anime.

Andrew Joseph said...

Damn, Mike... that's a beautiful table. A real work of art! I was always afraid of power tools... my shop teacher was missing two fingers. Plus, my dad had no time for my incompetence - some people teach, some just do... I've certainly spent over 10,000 hours writing. I still suck. I guess I'm a better story-teller than writer... but I have my doubts after reading some of your stuff.