Observations #8: Summer Challenge - Why? - Just Because

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Blog entry by Russel posted 07-29-2008 12:19 PM 1424 reads 0 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 7: I Need More Time Part 8 of Observations series Part 9: The Spirit of LumberJocks »

How many of us expect to win these challenges? Based on what I’ve read here, that’s hard to tell. But, also based on what I’ve read here, there are many that expect to not win, myself included. That observation struck me as interesting; why enter if you won’t win?

And then there are the prizes. I realized as I was entering my project that I didn’t even know what I was competing for. When the challenge was announced I didn’t pay attention to the prize list. Why bother if I wasn’t going to win? Yet, since I did enter I figured that I should probably see what I was competing for and if it was something that I could even use in my shop (Yeah all tools are good tools, but some I simply don’t use).

It occurred to me that if I wasn’t the only one who didn’t expect to win, then I probably wasn’t the only one who didn’t know what the prizes were. Then I had to ask myself, “Self, why are you competing if winning isn’t in the picture?” After all, the purpose of a competition is to determine a winner. And, if it’s clear that won’t be you, why bother?

And the answer is, “Because.”

Because in my time here there is a certain peer pressure, a certain temptation. Those whose skills exceed mine are constantly pressuring me to be better. Some overtly, but most with expert subtlety. You know the line, they say things like, “Great job,” or “You’re getting better,” or other such encouragements that lead you down the path of improvement. You mention your mistakes and they take it in stride telling you that next time it will be even better, all the while convincing you that you can acquire the skills necessary. There are quite a few “pushers” here who addict you to quality and improvement.

And then come the challenges. You see the challenge and as a result of all the positive talk, you believe you can do it. You believe that you can participate and meet the requirements of the challenge. You know your skills do not match the masters, but you believe you can accomplish the task set before you.

As it turns out, that’s the best part of these challenges; the opportunity to exercise your new found skill and confidence. The objective (for me at least) is not necessarily to win, but to compete honorably. To be able to do what has been asked of you. The prizes are for someone else, but the challenge is for all.

So while I don’t expect to win, I’ve had the opportunity to participate. I’ve entered because I wanted to show me that I had progressed. It’s actually a pretty good feeling.

-- Working at Woodworking

15 comments so far

View Al Navas's profile

Al Navas

305 posts in 4109 days

#1 posted 07-29-2008 01:23 PM


It is wonderful to know you have progressed – and the good feeling that goes with it. Neil Lamens, of Furnitology Productions fame, believes that the BEST thing we can do to get better is to ”, build, build…” I think you are saying the same thing!

Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

-- Al Navas, Country Club, MO,

View MsDebbieP's profile


18618 posts in 4395 days

#2 posted 07-29-2008 01:50 PM

doesn’t it feel great to complete a project for the challenges presented here?

Entering says, “See? I took up the challenge and I did it.”

Soon after I first joined I was challenged to enter the Thorsen Table Challenge.. Yah, me.. build a table .. when I was just learning about.. well—everything!! But I did take the challenge. And I did make a table. And I do love my table. Did I “win”? You bet I did—I won my own personal challenge to try, to do, to learn and to participate.
At that point I decided that I would participate in all the challenges because it would force me to try something new, and to do better than “good enough”.

Nice blog Russel. Thank you :)

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 4534 days

#3 posted 07-29-2008 03:06 PM

Thanks for sharing your thoughts Russel!

Its like that old saying.

Winning isn’t everything!

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View Kevin's profile


291 posts in 4192 days

#4 posted 07-29-2008 04:53 PM

Russel, I couldn’t have said it better. I still don’t know what the prizes are. I may have to go back to the front page and just find out though. Like you, it is not about winning for me as much as participating.

-- Kevin, Wichita, Kansas

View Eric's profile


875 posts in 4018 days

#5 posted 07-29-2008 04:58 PM

Right on, Russel. I’ve entered the contest, but not to win. To be honest, I don’t even have any idea what the prizes are – I was just pumped to have an entry!

-- Eric at

View lazyfiremaninTN's profile


528 posts in 4187 days

#6 posted 07-29-2008 05:48 PM

I am putting the finishing touches on a serving tray for the contest. The reason I will be entering, is because I needed to challeng myself. I would not have been motivated enough on my own to make something like that and I think I had to call Greg 15-20 times, down from my usual 30-40 times….LOL.

I truely hope that I win, however, I didn’t enter for the prizes (god knows that I’ll never use them for thier intended use) but for the self-gratification that “I DID IT”.

-- Adrian ..... The 11th Commandment...."Thou Shalt Not Buy A Wobble Dado"

View Russel's profile


2199 posts in 4173 days

#7 posted 07-29-2008 06:08 PM

The agreement here validates my appreciation of this site and the people here. The goal is not superiority of one over another, but accomplishment of all. The fact that the people here want to better themselves and others makes this place truly unique.

-- Working at Woodworking

View Zuki's profile


1404 posts in 4311 days

#8 posted 07-29-2008 09:41 PM

I too enjoy the challenge to build something a little out of my reach thereby building my skill set.

However . . . I would also love to have the router bit set to help build my selection.

Good observation Russel.

-- BLOG -

View Russel's profile


2199 posts in 4173 days

#9 posted 07-29-2008 10:43 PM

Well, I certainly wouldn’t refuse a prize. ;-)

-- Working at Woodworking

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4223 days

#10 posted 07-29-2008 11:12 PM

I have been here 400 days as of today. I have seen people’s skills growing as time goes by, myself included.

As Zuki says “I too enjoy the challenge to build something a little out of my reach”. That’s what I try to do.
I do that by trying things that I have never done before.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View PurpLev's profile


8548 posts in 3883 days

#11 posted 07-29-2008 11:21 PM

I think it an opportunity for people to show ideas of similar subjects , kinda like mingling the ideas and sharing our work with others who can appreciate it more then the average joe could.

oh yeah … and dont forget to vote for me ;) lol

But most than all it’s the PARTICIPATION that counts. Being a part of something with everyone. Keeping this community alive and rockin’!

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View SPalm's profile


5325 posts in 4116 days

#12 posted 07-30-2008 12:19 AM

Thanks Russel. Well put.
I totally agree. Almost all of my woodworking is just because. It’s a love, a hobby, a fun way to spend time. Thanks again for putting it in writing.


-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View manilaboy's profile


177 posts in 4169 days

#13 posted 07-30-2008 01:44 AM

The Olympics will be on in a few days. It’s nice to see that the olympic spirit has not died down. At least here in Lumberjocks.

“The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.”

I am still having goose bumps whenever I read that paragraph. I think I should throw in my junk into that contest. LOL

-- "Real jocks do it on a bench"

View Martin Sojka's profile

Martin Sojka

1893 posts in 4707 days

#14 posted 08-03-2008 02:28 PM

LumberJocks Olympics Spirit – that’s exactly what you can feel here, manilaboy.
Well said everybody.. and nice encouragement to keep improving the Awards!

View Karson's profile


35152 posts in 4635 days

#15 posted 08-03-2008 02:54 PM

Russell: A fitting series of staements that show the true spirit of LumberJocks. Not that I can do something better than you but that I can do something better than I’ve ever done it before.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia †

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