Tuesday, January 13, 2015

This is my true freedom (Alter Bridge)

A recent conversation with my youngest daughter went along these lines: she wanted me to build her a coffee table for her new house and I pointed out that while I was okay with big projects that involve a crowbar, hammer and a skill saw, I was NOT adept at cabinet making. My skills are not fine enough. 

I told her I could make a rough table out of 4x2 but not a presentable table for her lounge.

She completely failed to understand that and has kept asking and I have kept trying to explain my difficulty with the finesse required to successfully become a cabinet maker.

I remembered this conversation while reading a section of Dr Ian Hunter's excellent book Imagine.

He uses the example of Thomas Chippendale to explain his third pillar of innovation - knowledge.

Dr Hunter says: Intellect alone will not maximise your knowledge. Knowledge of others, knowledge of yourself, knowledge of your culture- while not academic pursuits, these are vital for innovation.

It's this self knowledge that Dr Hunter explores.

Chippendale had sideboards full of it and, in my fifth decade, I like to think that I have a fair dollop too (and, b.t.w. I also know my daughter).

Dr Hunter again - The innovator MUST have a cultivated knowledge of themselves: their strengths, their weaknesses, their abilities, and their limitations. 

Chippendale knew he was a cabinet-maker and designer, but he was no businessman so he hired a succession of smart business partners.

Back to me - I know my building strengths, and I know my limitations. Given the tools, the resources, a good teacher, and a motivation to make a fine product I'm pretty sure I could make that coffee table. 

But until then I'll aim not to be a hindrance to the cabinet making profession and stand over here.

A man's got to know his limitations ('Dirty' Harry Callahan).

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