Friday, March 08, 2013
If You Build It, They Will Come. Or They Won't
I very much like the internal gyroscope that hums away in people like Dimitrios.
He doesn't seem to have ever done anything else in his life except carve wood. He's done it on two continents for fifty years or so, so I don't imagine he's going to become a race-car driver or astronaut anytime soon. His mind must be as well-ordered as his shop.
When the layman sees people like Dimitrios, they can't imagine that there could be a set of circumstances where he wouldn't be in demand. A: He can do marvelous things. B: People who can do marvelous things are in short supply. C: People will make it pay for him.
C's the tricky bit. And in it lies a lesson. Dimitrios has to begin on faith. He cannot know in the 1940s in Greece that he can make a go of it in Hampden, Massachusetts fifty years hence. He begins his monomania strictly on desire. He wants to do it. He trusts in something -- God, man, commerce, luck, himself, perhaps; whatever -- and he begins. His persistence was rewarded with a life-long livelihood.
The trickiest bit's trickiest bit is the faith part. Life's losers have the same faith in themselves. Insane people, for instance, usually have an impenetrable carapace of self-possession. Hell, business is a kind of insanity, considered dispassionately. I had a friend that ran restaurants and nightclubs. He once explained his work to me. OK, throw the best party you've ever been at. Now do it every night.
You have to go insane first, and then get people to go along with your delusion. Dimitrios has to say: I am a woodcarver, and say it before he is a woodcarver, or he'll never become one. The deranged chicken must lay the crazy egg, and vice versa. There's a guy on your bus that wears a prom dress and thinks he's Marie of Romania. He has made the same kind of decision. Then again, it's entirely possible that a guy on a downtown bus in a prom dress will make more money by holding court, and an empty Dunkin' Donuts cup, than Dimitrios makes carving.
In business, we all have to wear the prom dress on the bus first. The fickle public will raise their hand to let you know when you're Marie of Romania. Or they won't.
[Merci beaucoup to Kathleen M. and Karen O. for supporting this blog]