Friday, October 18, 2013

Life is a craft, not a job

I try to view the things I do in life as a craft, not as a job.

The key difference between a craft and a job is the pride and care you take in your work.

For example, four days a week, I make a sandwich for my daughter Marissa to take to lunch (on Thursdays, her school offers pizza).

Her standard sandwich consists of a slice of potato bread, smeared with a chocolate almond spread (the Trader Joe's alternative to Nutella), with the crusts removed.

I could just slap down a slice of bread, quickly smear on some spread, then make a quick fold to make the sandwich.

I could also aggressively slice off the crust, accepting the waste of bread and spread.

If I were doing a job, maybe that's what I'd do.

But it's not a job, it's a craft.

Instead, I carefully slice the crusts off the bread.  First I trim the bottom of the slice.  Then I trim the sides--usually, I'm trimming so that the side trimmings split in two along the curve of the bread.  Finally, I trim off the rounded top, usually with one slice on either side, though I sometimes add a third slice if necessary.

Next, I carefully slice the crustless bread into two roughly equal pieces.  I'm trying to get the pieces to fit together as neatly as possible.

Next, I smear a scoop of chocolate almond spread on each slice, then go back and carefully spread it to the edges of the bread.  After the second half slice, I carefully scrape off the knife with the side of that slice, so that I waste as little spread as possible.  I then clean the butter knife off with a swipe of paper towel, so that the spread doesn't congeal and make later washing difficult.

Finally, I assemble the sandwich, wrap it in plastic wrap, and give it to Marissa to pack.

It takes more care to do it this way, but it doesn't take much more time, especially in the grand scheme of things.

But taking care is what makes it a craft, not a job.

If you can add meaning to something as mundane as making a sandwich four days a week, you can apply a sense of craft to the important work of your life.

Your startup is a craft, not a job.  Your life is a craft, not a job.

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