What you really need is a template for living

Kia ora..! Nau mai, haremai…! 

That’s Hello and Welcome in Te Reo Māori the indigenous language of Aotearoa New Zealand, which is where I live.

If you follow me on Twitter (@smith_graeme), or you’ve been reading my blog you’ll know that I’ve been thinking a lot about craft and craftsmanship.

And how to get back in touch with the idea of making things well.

Recently, I wrote about the idea of doing a good job, for its own sake. This is a follow-up because I think what you really need, what we all really need, is a template for living. 

And for that, what you really need is to two things:

  1. Buy my new eBook before the presale price goes up; and
  2. learn how to think properly.

So turn off Netflix (it’s not helping) and instead, buckle up and start thinking.

And by thinking I don’t mean using your head. At least not on its own. That’s what got you into this mess in the first place. 

Enough of that. 

Just stop. 

You need to learn how to think with your hands. And this means making cool shit. 

You see: building, making and creating – are – thinking. But the reverse isn’t true.

The processes involved in making contain thinking and feeling but unite your hands, head and heart. This is real thinking. Not academic head-thinking. 

And there’s more… Your mind continues to engage once the work of building or making is completed. 

This means that if we make things and then work to get a better understanding of how we make them, we can achieve a better understanding of ourselves.

Making, building, creating, therefore, is a path to mastery including self-mastery.

And, you can’t escape it… I know you can feel it drawing you in… to get better… to improve…

Otherwise, you wouldn’t be here.

But the main reason you can’t escape it is that the desire to do a job well for its own sake is a basic human urge. This is what skilled craft and craftsmanship are about.

As a craftsman, you are the architect of your work… of your own shit. 

But if you want to elevate your work and yourself, you must know the reasons for the things that you do. 

So I’m gonna ask you: What’s your craft? But we’ll come back to that. 

For now, just think about this: did you know that our word in English for poetry has the same Greek root word for “making”? The poet and the writer then are another kind of craftsman. Another kind of maker. 

When driven by quality work. 

And sincerity. 

The difference then between an ancient Greek poet and a Linux programmer is a few millennia. But that’s about it.

Both had or have standards for good work set down by their community. And both have passed skills down from generation to generation including sets of skills that evolved over time.

These practical skills sustain our lives today as they did in ancient times. Our children and especially schools need to understand this. You need to understand this.

Do you write code? Do you do accounting in some back-office somewhere? Arrange shipments to local retail stores? Take photographs? Are you a healer? An artist? Do you build, make, create…?

Whatever it is… this is your craft. And you are a Craftsman, an artisan, a “shokunin”.

So let’s make craft and craftsmanship great again. But I need you to start with yourself and set an example for others. 

You are designed to design. And you are made to make, built to build. But how do you get started on all of this? I’m gonna tell you: 

  • Start with something small.

If you truly seek mastery though you need to do more than this. You need to understand The Way of the Craftsman. This means you need to understand ways of working that allow you to use your talents. This means:

  • Learning lessons from the past.
  • Using tools.
  • Acquiring new skills.
  • Practising and repeating skills.
  • Thinking about the stuff you work with. 

Are you human? If yes, then there is a craftsman inside of you.

So, again… What’s your craft?

Mine’s leatherwork. And I can teach you. Wanna know more? You can talk to me on Twitter as @smith_graeme or find me here: https://linktr.ee/thisisgraeme

Oh… buy my damn book.

Ngā mihi nui

Author: Graeme Smith

Education, technology, design. Also making cool stuff...

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