Friday, July 16, 2010

Old Lessons Still Apply

From about 5th grade until today, I've had a few very favorite teachers, coaches, and employers. These people have taught me so many valuable lessons to carry throughout all of my life, and I appreciate and thank them for that! But just a few minutes ago, one of those teachers came to mind, and I always have fond memories of her. Mrs. Fuller was my art teacher all throughout high school. I make it sound like she was mine alone, but she taught many. One of her favorite sayings came to mind while I was thinking about my current situation today.

Mrs. Fuller often had a reputation of being strict and eccentric, two things that I loved dearly about her. You were often disciplined if you did not respect her and her assignments, and mostly she just wanted everyone to respect and love art. She has been known to stand atop her desk and belt out some opera-sounding (and extremely high pitched) notes to quiet an unruly classroom. I can still hear her calling out the name of one of my fellow classmates... "Richy!" (As far as I know, no one else called him that). I envied the fact that she owned more pairs of glasses than anyone, and she always matched them to her outfit that day. One thing Mrs. Fuller always repeated as her mantra was "quality over quantity". Oh how I love that saying.

Many teachers were happy if you completed their homework of copying paragraphs or definitions from a text book. Some teachers loved when you could spout off an entire history timeline from memory (that wasn't me). But Mrs. Fuller always said that she wanted "quality over quantity"! If you turned in one really great piece of work that you clearly put effort into... she was happier than if you handed her ten pieces of work into which you probably put little to no thought. She could always tell who was genuinely trying and who just took art to pass time. You didn't need the skills of Picasso or Dali to please her, but if you put effort into your work she was ecstatic. Some people really know how to see passion that's often invisible to others. I appreciated my art teacher, Mrs. Fuller, for her ability to see passion in her students.

Some of my past jobs have been great... and some... not so great. I definitely want a career working for someone who appreciates employees who want to learn and who ask a lot of questions. Some employers discourage too many questions, because they think you're not producing work quickly enough; I'd rather learn how to do something right the first time, instead of producing sloppy work quickly. (Not to mention, I probably still won't know how to do what you want me to do if I never learn it) If there's one thing I really dislike, it's not being proud of the work that I've done. Employers, please give your employees an opportunity to learn and grow and be proud of what they do. Wouldn't it be great if employers stressed the idea of "quality over quantity"? If I needed brain surgery, I would want a surgeon who operates carefully and precisely, not one who works the quickest and costs the least. Yikes!

It seems that bottom line often trumps the possibility of creating people who produce quality work they are proud of. I don't know many people who like to be treated as a factory. Many (not all) people start slowly at first, but given the chance to succeed they will. I have always learned the most from people in my life who demand quality over quantity! Put in your biggest and best effort, and out come great results.

Quality:
Inspiring: I hand painted many parts of this custom built house on Burt Lake.


Quantity:
Uninspiring: not so attractive... plus they all look the same


Mmmmm... I really, really enjoy quality.

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