It’s been an interesting couple of weeks – at least I think interesting is the right word for it. Not good, not bad … a bit exhausting to be honest. But that’s life, right? Work, work, work, seems like that’s just about all I’ve been doing lately. Meanwhile, summer break starts today for my daughter Kate.
Remember summer breaks? I am almost thirty years removed from a real summer break but I can still remember exactly how awesome they were. As much as I would like to share a bunch of stories I have from my childhood, surprisingly, I’m not here to reminisce about the good old days.
I had a moment last night that made me rethink the post I was originally going to publish today. Something else took roost in my head and since writing these blog posts over the last several years has become cathartic for me, I thought I would change directions and talk about something else. I went to softball practice with my daughter Kate; I’m one of the “coaches” despite never having played baseball myself. All in all, I think practice went pretty well – I’m better than most of the 11-year-old girls. When practice was over, Kate and I were walking back to the car and she was clearly unhappy so I asked her what was wrong. She told me that this was the day that she realized that she was not the best player on her team, something that really bothered her.
Time to take off my baseball cap and put on my parenting cap.
I had some advice readily available to provide her because it was loosely related to an article that I just finished writing for the National AIA Young Architects Forum (YAF) Connections. I won’t get in to what I wrote for them – that article is on “Resiliency” – but you can probably imagine why resiliency could be an appropriate topic to discuss with my daughter at this moment.
But I didn’t actually talk to her about resiliency. Instead, she and I spoke about hard work (my father would be so proud!) and how she is reaching an age where the difference between how good people are at something when compared to others is relative to the amount of work they put in towards improving. When you are younger, some things just come a bit more naturally to some people over others; but as you get older, you can actually “out work’ people.
This is a topic that most architects know and understand intimately.
I can easily use myself as a case study in the working hard category – as evidenced by the fact that it is Sunday night and I am writing my second blog post of the evening when I could just as easily be watching TV, reading a book, or literally almost any other thing. I could also point out that I was in California for business last week and when I returned to town late Friday, I was already making plans to spend my Saturday up at the office; because going out of town to work doesn’t mean that the work that is sitting on your desk is getting done. Guess what else I worked on this weekend … construction drawings for playhouses (which are due to the contractors tomorrow).
If you are an architect – or an architecture student – I know you don’t have any sympathy for me because chances are pretty good that you did something similar.
Working hard when you don’t have to is a trait that not everyone possesses. When something is important to you, it’s not all that difficult to put in the extra effort so that your work ethic can outpace someone else’s natural ability. If you want to improve yourself, it isn’t just going to happen. Nothing worthwhile is easy and anyone who thinks otherwise probably isn’t doing as good a job as they might think.
Sure, luck figures in to the mix on occasion, and yes, natural ability AND work ethic are a hard combination to beat. All you can do – just like I told my daughter – is to identify what you want, put the work in, and show up. At that point, everything else generally will take care of itself.
Keep your eyes on the prize –