By John Matonich
I was reading an article about a professional football player recently and he made a comment about one of the things that made him smile a little. He related that when he met new people many times someone would say something to the effect that they “played a little ball” in their day. He went on to say that while he appreciated how many folks had experienced the same sport he loved, he had to chuckle a little about the relevance of their comment to his career. He wisely never tried to correct the comparison and just went on about his business. I never thought much about that comment until recently.
I had quite a few folks in my wood shop over the 4th of July holiday and it was great to meet some new people as well as run into some folks I hadn’t seen in a while. Even though about 90 percent of what I build is custom furniture and décor pieces that are built to my customers’ specifications, I do have a retail area and display a few items I build when time allows. Since my shop is right on the main street of my hometown, it makes sense to have a few things available if someone is looking for a gift or a standard piece for themselves. It also allows me to display some pictures of some of my custom work in case someone is looking for ideas.
What I found interesting was the number of people that visited my shop who made comments about their own woodworking ability. I heard “I do a little woodworking myself” quite often and it made me think about the pro football player’s article I read. I certainly don’t want to put myself at the same level as that pro football player, but it made me wonder how many other professionals hear the same comments.
While I was downstate working for an engineering/surveying company, in my 35 years there, I don’t remember ever hearing a client say “I did a little surveying in high school” while we were discussing his project. I am not sure how I would have reacted, but probably would have compared a few methods with him to see if I could improve my own skills. I did exactly that when someone made the woodworking comment in my shop. Woodworking is a popular activity and I can always learn something new to do my work better.
I have now changed how I relate to professionals I meet or do business with. I met a CPA just the other day and I couldn’t resist telling him that “I balanced a few check books in my day”. He wasn’t sure what to say and didn’t ask about my methods, so I guess he didn’t need to learn any more about how to do it.
I wonder how my dentist is going to react when I visit next and tell him that “I have drilled a few holes in my day”. Given my woodworking background I am sure he will understand and want to compare a few methods.
And that’s the situation as I survey it …