Many times when we hear of two people having ‘differences’ we think it is a bad thing. The mere term brings to mind visions of conflict and discontent.
But when looking at things from another perspective, perhaps as an artist or creative person, differences are not viewed as something negative, but rather sought after in order to provide value through uniqueness and individuality. The more unique they are, the higher the value.
I think that it is interesting that a word would have such diverse meanings. While I realize that there are many words such as this in our language, I find it rather ironic that a word with the root of ‘different’ can express two entirely ‘different’ pictures in our mind.
So what got me thinking about all these good and bad differences?
As those of you have been reading know, the past week or so of my life here has been filled with differences. I have had some issues present in my business that have not been pleasant. There have been some differences with one of my distributors in the negative sense, as we are unable to come to a meeting of the minds. Conflicts such as these are draining and detrimental to anyone, and I know few people who enjoy being in this state of mind.
But instead of focusing on the negative differences, we have chosen to move forward. There are other avenues in front of us that we are able and willing to explore in our work, and we are choosing to focus on that and our future rather than dwell on our past.
My partner Keith has been working with me for just over three years now. When I first met him back then, he had very little knowledge or experience working with the scroll saw. He was familiar with general woodworking, as he had built some nice stereo equipment such as speakers and such and other larger furniture items.
When I first introduced him to the scroll saw, there was naturally a learning curve. But it amazed me how quickly he not only learned the basics, but became very masterful at cutting. Soon he began creating his own patterns, and because he was already quite proficient with computers, quickly learned the software programs and process that I use to create them.
One thing that I did notice through this entire process was how differently we did many things. As Keith gained confidence in what he was doing, he began to divert from the methods that I had shown him. Not only did this apply to the process, but also to the types of scrolling that he was creating and the designs.
You would think that this may bother me, as in the very beginning I was the ‘teacher’ on some levels. But it did not. I had always had the philosophy that each one needs to learn their own way and by encouraging one to do so, they develop their own style and sense of security in what they are doing. I think our situation is a prime example of how well that can work.
While Keith and I basically do the same thing, there are undeniable differences in both our methods and our results. And that is very exciting.
This is an example of how wonderful being ‘different’ can be. Instead of being a clone of me and my design style, Keith has brought his own style to our company and has multiplied its diversity and appeal. Just as I have my own personal style and preferences of types of designs I like to do, Keith has his, and it has truly added a great deal to the company as a whole.
In our recent goals of trying to diversify and branch out to appeal to other areas of woodworking, this has helped tremendously. We each have ideas of where we would like to explore, and between the two of us we will hopefully find some new avenues that will help our business grow.
Last night, Keith did his first blog here on Lumberjocks. It is a blog about Carving Using a Scroll Saw Pattern and shows a great way to integrate what we do into the carving arena.
I would have never thought on these lines, and I am really happy with seeing the results of his idea.
The method he used is fun and relaxing and requires few tools other then a Dremel and a couple of bits and a saw to cut the perimeter. We think it may be a technique that could easily be applied to many types of projects and be enjoyed by many.
As for myself, I am still working on my own new directions. At this time, I am still not ready to talk much about it, but I am getting closer. It isn’t that I am doing something completely new – as a matter of fact I am working on some things that have been associated with woodworking for many years – but it is new for me and like anyone who is just starting to do something different, I need to feel a bit more confident about it and myself before I am ready to show it to the world. But I am getting closer every day.
Differences can really be something positive. If everything was the same and everyone thought the same and liked and disliked the same things, think of how boring our world would be. Differences bring variety and choices and interest to our lives. Why then would we feel it necessary to have everyone think like we do? By embracing the diversity of others, we are only enriching our own lives and allowing ourselves an endless world of experiences. And because of that, our lives are much fuller and happier.
Have a great day today. Do something different.
We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value no matter what the color. – Maya Angelou
Image courtesy of http://gaolst.deviantart.com/
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"