Confluence is such a great word, and an even better thing to experience. Don’t you just love it when the pieces come together and you get a whole new perspective?
I had such a epiphany this past weekend while in New York City for Thanksgiving. My daughter and I went up with a list of things we wanted to do and places we wanted to see, and hit the ground running as soon as our suitcases hit the floor.
The first point of confluence came at about 9 o’clock Wednesday evening in the Chelsea Market. Have you been? It’s a foodie’s crack den, with store after store peddling chocolates, cupcakes, spices, fruits, lobsters…in other words – heaven.
A glass-enclosed production kitchen caught our eye. The bakers were surrounded by racks and racks of apple pies, pumpkin pies, breads and rolls. We checked the sign – “Sarabeth’s Kitchen” – and squealed, because we had reservations to eat our Thanksgiving dinner at the Sarabeth’s restaurant near Central Park. As we worked our way further into the store, we saw an older woman hefting trays of pastries into rolling racks and generally getting things into order. I spoke: “You all have been busy!” She smiled, and said, “It’s the biggest day of the year for us, and I think we’re ready.” I tossed in, “Well, we’re eating at the Central Park restaurant tomorrow, so I guess we’ll be eating some of this stuff.” She nodded, hands constantly busy, “These or ones just like this.” She smiled again and kept moving racks.
My daughter whispered, “Mom, that’s Sarabeth.” I cocked my head to the right, surprised. Here, the night before the biggest day in the restaurant trade and the owner of nine restaurants and a booming online business was on-site, with no entourage, making sure things got done?
That’s attention to detail. That’s honoring your work. That’s being true to your craft.
Regardless of how big you get.
And our Thanksgiving meal was richer for having seen Sarabeth’s commitment to her work.
Another confluence point came the next day. We had tickets to a new musical – A Christmas Story: The Musical – based on our favorite holiday film of all time. What better way to kick off the season than seeing a Christmas musical on Thanksgiving Day? Most of the theatres on Broadway are dark on Thanksgiving, so actors and technicians can take a well-deserved night off. But A Christmas Story has a limited run and every performance is a countdown to the final show. We took our seats and noticed that the folks in front of us seemed to know one another. There was a lot of hand-shaking, back-slapping and hugging.
We overheard one man laughingly say to another, “Here we are on our day off, in a theatre!” And then a man approached the fellow right in front of me and said, “Are you who I think you are?” [We, out-of-town rubes that we are, didn't know who anyone was.] They shook hands and the man said, “I love the way they worked your number, you are awesome in it” and it became clear that the entire two rows in front of us were full of performers, writers and directors of other Broadway shows and their families – taking their one night off to watch a new show. I watched their reaction to the performance as it unfolded in front of us – the professionals were as caught up in the great singing, dancing, and production as anyone. And as the new show roared into its finale, it was the other actors who immediately jumped to their feet in a standing ovation.
That’s commitment to craft, too. By allowing yourself to be a member of the audience, rather than being on stage. By learning from watching others doing what you do. By immersing yourself in the work, even if someone else is doing it.
And that’s the thing, I think. When you find the part of your work which is your craft, and you honor it rather than begrudge it – when you do more than just show up, punch the clock and endure eight or ten hours – that’s when you find the meaning. The art. The joy.
Whether you are a CEO or a project manager, a mom or a car salesman, an entrepreneur or an actor – you owe it to yourself to infuse your work with the art of craft. And to celebrate everyone else who’s also honoring your craft by doing it well, and with heart.
When we do that, we’re all lifted up. And it’s a true Thanksgiving.