She’s collected every single sugar sachet in the café. I’d want her in my team; I’d hire her. (But would it have to be a zero hours contract? I’m thinking she’s about 5.) The care, attention and concentration with which a sweet (it won’t be ‘low’ for long) Hadrian’s wall is being built across her dad’s table is creating a whole new atmosphere. It’s not easy work, yet she doesn’t flag. Nothing puts her off. She’s happy and focused.
And so we’re all concentrating that little bit harder. (I do like that patting sound of finger tips on iPads). I think we’re all trying to do a little bit better because of that exquisite concentration in the corner. She’s setting us an example. Am I getting all retro about personal qualities? I think her industry and dedication has found many echoes this week.
If you pop into the V&A at any point before July, check out the Italian Glamour Exhibition. (Visitors are not universally glamorous, so don’t feel inhibited). It seems connected to our young architect-builder. There is such casual, confident, effortlessness about that Italian ‘look’. And yet the workmanship, the hours dedicated so lovingly to crafting these pieces extended over week after hard week.
Time and effort as part of beauty. http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/exhibitions/exhibition-the-glamour-of-italian-fashion-1945-2014/
Isn’t it easy to be taken in by apparent perfection? Alan Ayckbourn talked at the National Theatre last week and recounted laughingly so many disasters, near-misses,and vulnerabilities, behind the scenes. Those apparently perfect performances – yet so much angst and hard work, so many ‘phew’ exhalations as the curtain fell.
He is 75. He has written 78 plays. He’d recognize that Hadrian’s wall of sugar.
Two clients recently have reported that ‘aha’ moment in reframing a workplace ‘situation’. They carefully and patiently worked their way through various options – no small feat – to reach apparently effortless (and elegant) solutions. It might look to the outsider like a sudden breakthrough. It wasn’t. (London Marathon metaphor alert. As I glanced out of the café window then, I think I saw a marathon straggler – er, a large rabbit – shuffling past.)
Practice making perfect.
Malcolm Gladwell popularized the idea of the 10,000 hours practice rule in ‘Outliers’. The original concept appeared in a paper by a University of Colorado Professor Anders Ericsson, in 1993. He stressed that this wasn’t just any old practice – it needed to be deliberate to be of value – there had to be some sort of really desired outcome. The architect builder has been revisiting and perfecting parts of the table top palisade. She has revisited little packet placements, and nudged and rejigged delicately and carefully. She knows exactly how she wants it to be.
Ira Glass has some wonderful advice in his series about storytelling about this ‘gap’ between what we produce and what we are trying to achieve. And some simple advice: to just keep on going.
The wall is finished. She looks so happy. And as she sits back she whispers ‘phew’.