Working with Greatness: The Processes Behind the Production

April 8, 2010
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Something interesting happens when you let someone into your life to take care of things you’re unable or unwilling to do for yourself. There’s this fascinating level of intimacy that develops over a short period of time as one aspect of your life or business is cracked open and laid bare before someone else, someone with which you may not already have a relationship.

In order to fix the leaky pipe, get the car to start, or, in my case, remedy an ailing website, you have to give someone the keys and stand back. We, the service providers, have to get up close and personal with the inner workings of your house/car/website/life to correct the problem. It’s this unintentional close examination of what’s broken and the surrounding area that can tell a distinct story to the people who want to listen.

This idea of service provider intimacy isn’t new (is anything anymore?) but the point was made very clear to me recently.

Greatness up close

I recently traded cash and time to a friend who creates amazing art with aerosol paint (the piece above). One of the things he asked me to do was to trace

Something interesting happens when you let someone into your life to take care of things you’re unable or unwilling to do for yourself. There’s this fascinating level of intimacy that develops over a short period of time as one aspect of your life or business is cracked open and laid bare before someone else, someone with which you may not already have a relationship.

In order to fix the leaky pipe, get the car to start, or, in my case, remedy an ailing website, you have to give someone the keys and stand back. We, the service providers, have to get up close and personal with the inner workings of your house/car/website/life to correct the problem. It’s this unintentional close examination of what’s broken and the surrounding area that can tell a distinct story to the people who want to listen.

This idea of service provider intimacy isn’t new (is anything anymore?) but the point was made very clear to me recently.

Greatness up close

I recently traded cash and time to a friend who creates amazing art with aerosol paint (the piece above). One of the things he asked me to do was to traced some of his sketches and convert them to vector format.

I’m still honing my pen tool skills in Adobe Illustrator so I was glad to have the practice but, for the most part, this is a tedious job. What I didn’t expect, though, was just how incredible it was to see the lines and shapes that make up his work.

It wasn’t until I got into the groove on the second drawing that I started to look beyond just the vector lines over scanned pencil and see what made each piece so beautiful and natural. Pose2 has this amazing ability to create very organic drawings and paintings in any medium he chooses.

The job went from something I was doing for trade to something I was honored to have a part in. The vector files are going to be turned into jewelry so they had to be “corrected” to make sure they could be cut out of metal. I found it very difficult to correct anything on these pieces because the first pass, the pencil drawings, were so gorgeous.

The care, skill, and mastery that Pose puts into his art is the same kind of love and expertise that some people put into their business. I realized, adding anchor points and stretching curves, that I have this kind of relationship with every individual and business that I work with and it’s easy to see when people care about what they do, who they work with, and who they serve.

What it takes

You see, I know all about greatness because I exude it every second of every day. Well, maybe not every second. What I do have is the knack for recognizing it in others, even when I’m not doing it myself.

Look closely, you can see a level of care and skill in the way great people conduct themselves:

  • What they say is kind, honest, and conversational. You can see this in their email, on their website, and in their social interactions online.
  • They are anxious to learn more, even if it threatens what they already know.
  • They are more scared of saying the same thing than they are of changing, growing, and improving.
  • Their output is not always perfect but it shines in a very unique way.
  • Knowing them and interacting with them makes you want to improve what you do and who you are (thanks Stephanie!)

The opposite of greatness

If greatness is expressed through the actions I listed above, then what does the opposite look like?

  • A pattern of dishonest, negative, or unnatural communication
  • Desperation to hold on to entrenched truths at the cost of expansion and growth
  • A fear of change and experimentation, even if the current methods are not working
  • Output is cold, templated, unoriginal, and safe.
  • Their presence hardens your own thoughts on the world, particularly things you already know to be false

How are you great?

I want to know, how are you great? How do you recognize greatness in others? How do you find and retain great people in your life?

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