The Importance of Craftsmanship


Last week, my friend sent me a link to a short documentary about Japanese carpentry. Certain construction techniques allow buildings to stand for many hundreds of years without any sort of nails or screws. The video led me to thinking about craftsmanship and the work we do. This film reminded me of some principals that I would like to share with you. The documentary is roughly 24 minutes long and can be appreciated by almost anyone. The point is not tables or wood working, but the skill, mindset and respect for difficult and rewarding work. I highly recommend you make time to watch this.

Skill is in Demand

Technology advances exponentially. Tasks are automated. Budgets cut. Jobs lost. Yet, skill is always in demand. If you are among the best at a particular craft, there will always be somebody willing to pay for the best. What if you are replaced by a robot at work some day? YOU can never be replaced by a machine, but the task you were doing can. Your touch, your skill, your thinking, your passion can never be replaced with a machine. And besides, if you're great at something, there are others in the world who want to learn what you know. If you are skilled at something, there is always a demand for it, you might just need to look in new places.

Take Pride in Your Work

We are given one physical life on earth (according to science). It's fair to assume that what we spend the most time doing is the most important to us. For most of us, our work is what we spend the most time doing. Your work might be a job, a career, a hobby, a passion or a mix of any of those. You should respect the task you've chosen to spend a majority of your time doing. Take pride in your work and your work will give more back to you. 

Enjoy The Work

Why do you work? Some of us work jobs for money. Some of us work out for our health or physique. Some of us work for a grade. Some of us work for notoriety. There's nothing wrong with the results of your efforts, but working for results is like teaching a horse to run for a carrot, a dog to behave for a treat or a child to read in exchange for a later bed time. The horse doesn't learn to love to run, it learns to love carrots. The dog doesn't love behaving for you, it loves its treats. And the child doesn't read for the story, but for the bribe. 

If you would like to continually get better at a trade or skill for the long run, you need to enjoy the work. In fact, you should fall in love with the work. Rewards are a great way to get started, but loving the work will allow you to stick with it and become great at what you do. In this case, The Work refers to the actual physical, intellectual or creative tasks you perform while working.