I have been thinking about the intention involved in craftsmanship a lot lately. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, it is defined as “one who creates or performs with skill or dexterity especially in the manual arts”. To some degree, this implies that there is a dedicated focus on the actual skill and technical ability needed create or perform at an optimum level.
Typically, the word craftsmanship is associated with any kind of artistic and manual activity that demands at least some amount of physical and proficient movement. Woodworking, painting, or pottery are activities that come to mind, but what if we could apply it to any kind of work that we like to do? What if we relate it more with how we approach our work versus that actual work itself.
For example, I love to write as a way to express my ideas, opinions, and to tell stories, and I also love all of the mechanics that come with doing academic work in a college setting. One of these is arguably more artistic than the other, but the attributes of craftsmanship can be applied to both.
As I writer, I can take the time to understand how to clearly and eloquently convey an idea or emotion. What kind of language does that require? How can I structure sentences to accomplish this? What are the ways that words can flow on a page as opposed to being dry and clumsy? How can I make my writing more engrossing and easy to understand?
A craftsman would approach writing by asking these questions and meticulously finding the best applicable answers. He or she would focus on the skill itself and infuse thoughtful intention towards deeply understanding any and all fundamental concepts and doing excellent quality work.
My life as a college student could also strongly utilize a craftsman’s mindset. I could analyze how I use my time in order to ensure that I can keep up with deadlines and due dates better. I can figure out the study techniques that offer maximum retention and actual understanding of concepts for an exam, and speaking of exams, I can figure out and implement test-taking best practices for all kinds of tests. There are any number of possibilities.
Whatever the pursuit, the only important component is that you focus on the skill itself and determine ways to execute it towards as close an approximation of excellence and mastery as you can.
Whether one’s life passion is artistic, menial, scientific, simple, or multi-faceted, it is easy to fall prey to the allure of fame, money, recognition, or any other external motivator. Alternately, the craftsman relates to the work itself on a day-to-day, or even minute to minute, kind of cycle that stays fully present and in the moment. Anything involving the ego becomes secondary, if not completely immaterial. There is a singular priority based upon doing strong and competent work.
I am writing about this to explore the idea of exemplifying craftsmanship in all that I do as a student, musician, artist, and human being. This means feeding a constant curiosity to fine-tune any work that I do to its fundamental nuts and bolts and to do it as well as possible. What excites me most about this prospect is that it cultivates a lifelong state of being towards doing work that I can be proud of and that matters to me.
A life that is lived well is a life full of deeply worthwhile pursuits.
This is how I want to live.