For the Love of the Work
Wallace and Gromit?
I was in the car with my youngest son recently. He was laughing about how he'd been unable to get the 'Wallace and Gromit' theme tune out of his head the night before and how it had kept him awake.
The conversation drifted to the making of those wonderful 'claymation' figures and in the next moment he was explaining how the movies were made and how the filmmakers blurred the camera lens with Vaseline in order to create the effect of motion.
The clay figures, of course, are fixed and filming motion involves jumping from one expression to another. When we move in real life, however, (try this with your hand right now) we don't see a series of fixed pictures; we see a blur—because our hand is moving faster than our eyes can keep up with. Hence we lose focus and it appears blurry. The filmmakers at Aardman Animations had figured out how to replicate this effect with old-fashioned Vaseline.
My son (who loves films in case you hadn't guessed!) then went on to talk about the new 'Incredibles' movie and the detail of the animation in the weave, and even the balls of fluff, on the t-shirt of Mr Incredible. I laughed that most of us probably wouldn't even notice by the time the film hit our local theatre.
For the Sake of Art
The quality of the animation in the Incredibles movie is probably way overboard for the quality most of us will be viewing—and certainly by the time it makes it through Amazon or Netflix to the small screen of our iPhone or tablet.
The animators care not at all about this final loss of detail.
For them, the joy is in the art, in the continued mastery of their art, their craft, their work. The best of them won't care at all about public or private recognition. In those moments when they are making choices about which details to include, they are in the flow of the work, which is all that matters.
How wonderful that we can see (or, rather, not see!) examples of people who are dedicated to their art, or their craft, their artistry, without any attachment to results or to ego.
I love it when I see someone going above and beyond what is absolutely necessary, for no other reason than dedication.
Because they can. Because they care. Because it makes life beautiful.
In Art so it is in Life
This conversation with my son reminded me of a conversation with a prospective client earlier in the week.
We'd also laughed. Not at Wallace and Gromit, but at the challenge I'd offered around why he'd connected me.
Poor sales technique he told me, but he also told me that I'd made him think in a way no-one else had. And, from that contemplation, he'd seen something new about what he wanted and how to get there.
For me, there's never the presence, or absence, of a 'sales technique', nor is there even a conscious awareness of what "I" want from a conversation. I'm there because I love the coaching process and I ask questions because I can see something that someone doesn't see for themselves.
Like the animator who’s making magic behind the scenes, I want to create magic for my clients, and prospective clients, whether we speak again or not.
The Magic in Mastery
Something that looks effortless often only looks that way because of years of mastery and dedication that have gone before. And, when we choose to dedicate ourselves to something, it becomes a never-ending journey.
I'm not saying we should do this in all areas of our life.
My house probably isn’t the cleanest house in the world, especially not compared to someone whose art is creating a beautiful home. But we can, in those few areas where we commit to being our best, dedicate ourselves to a lifetime of practice and love.
We don't do it for the glory, for the recognition, for someone else, or for the money. We do it simply because we can.
As soon as we turn our thoughts to what we can get from our work, then it ceases to be mastery. We do it because we can't not; we feel a desire and a pull beyond the consciousness of intellectual reason.
Because We Can
I love that phrase,
Because we can...
Why wouldn't we do what we are drawn to in life? Why wouldn't we do what feels natural and bigger than us?
What is this for you? Where are you working towards mastery in something you do? Is it something professional? Something personal? Can you see how it's something that chooses you rather than you choosing it?
It certainly feels like that for me.