Welcome to the year of the Artisan.

Image. Mouseman furniture. Roseberrys.co.uk.

The last century was the age of the corporation. All the rights of an individual, but none of the moral, ethical and social responsibilities. Profit as central and dominant purpose.

The first two decades of this century has seen them reach old age. All organisations age, and the best we can hope for is that they age gracefully, rather than turn into grumpy old citizens, or worse, soulless zombies (I say this with some feeling, having had a birthday over the holidays that means my age now begins with a 7. Salutary experience).

The best organisations can hope for, like us, is a legacy that makes a few people glad we were around for a while. No organisation is immortal, and what is more, their lifespan is reducing rapidly. As the old adage goes, when the world arounds us changes faster than we do, we have a problem.

Forget Resolutions, Think Practice.

Resolutions are for procrastinators. All the warm glow of intent, none of the pain. With the world around us changing at the rate it is, which we do not control, here are some thoughts as we get going:

  • Despite what generations of traditional education have taught us, we are not consumables in an industrial world. If 2020 has taught us anything, it is that people solve problems. Technology is a wonderful and powerful ally, but we let it steer us at our peril.
  • Organisations live the story the owners tell themselves, not the one they tell us. For a while, it makes sense to accompany them. It enables us to learn, associate and develop skills. But only for a while. Faster than we think, our story, the one we are trying to tell with out capabilities and talents, diverges from the one the organisation is telling. If we subordinate our story to theirs, we end up paying. The longer we leave it, the longer it takes to recover our story.
  • There is nobody out there who can tell us how to live our life, no matter how persuasive or successful they seem. Our lives are our responsibility. What we do with them, who we live them with, how we live them and what we leave behind. There is nobody out there coming to rescue us.
  • It is now that matters. What’s behind us is an amalgam of nostalgia and regret, whilst what’s in front of us is pure fiction until we live it. Our future is shaped by what we do today.

What we do today is a Practice:

  • Don’t let the day suck you in before you’re ready. Spend some time remembering who you are, what you want to do while you’re here and who you want to do it with.
  • Work like an Artisan. Whatever you do, focus your curiosity on it. Treat it as a craft. Examine it, get better at it, put your stamp on it. Teach others.
  • Start where you are. You may hate the job you’re doing. That’s a waste of time – it’s what you’ve got right now, and it has far more to it than you’re willing to acknowledge whilst you’re busy hating it. You have several unique capabilities you can bring to it. Find them and exercise them. They will point you to what you want to be doing.
  • Develop a rhythm. We work better inside a structure. Find several times in the day that belong to you. It need only be five minutes. You don’t have to chant or wear orange, you just have to be with yourself. Set a time, and a duration, and do it at the same time every day. Just be with yourself.
  • Don’t do it alone. You become the average of the five people you most associate with. Choose them carefully and work with them. They are on their own journey. Help them and let them help you. Share your thoughts, your dreams and your disappointments.

Practice and resolutions are very different. Resolutions are warm, cuddly and very fragile. Practice is about now, and putting yout stamp on it. Your practice is yours alone. You may choose to share it with others, or not.

As 2021 takes us out of some of the bewilderment of 2020, opportunitires will present themselves if you let them. Be ready. Practice being you.

I can’t say it better than Max Ehrmann.

Go 2021…


GO PLACIDLY amid the noise and the haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons; they are vexatious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy

Max Ehrmann

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