Earlier this week, I made note of Tom Friedman’s observation that we are in a Golden Age for Makers (from his latest book Thank You For Being Late). Never before has there been such opportunity for an individual person to contribute to the world cultural output.
One example Friedman talks about was the 2013 GE Jet Engine Bracket challenge. In this event, GE decided to open a design challenge to the entire world – they received nearly 700 submissions from design firms, individual engineers, and students from 56 different countries. The winner was a young Indonesian designer.
In the past, this kind of work would have been done in house or with a small select group of subcontractors. Now, nearly anyone can put their hat in the ring to be a Maker.
But what is the Maker Mindset?
I explored this a few years ago in a post titled “The Dawning of the New Creative Era: Are You Ready?” I won’t rehash those points here.
However, for the past several days, I’ve been contrasting Makers with various competing mindsets: the Breakers, the Takers, and the Fakers. These contrasts have helped us understand what the Maker Mindset isn’t. Let’s explore what it is.
Andy Crouch is really helpful in his book Culture Making (a must read). While that book covers all kinds of ground, here are a few gleanings that help us get to the Maker Mindset.
Makers Produce Artifacts
An artifact can be anything from a manuscript to a mansion. Buildings, roads, books, songs, meals, pots. The point being that there’s something finished. This is a new thing that communicates something about the world. It’s not an idea that keeps swirling in the head. It’s not a set of indecipherable scribbles tucked away in a notebook. It’s something. It may be a success or a failure or an exemplar of mediocrity, but it’s something.
Remember – talking about producing is not the same as producing. Planning to produce is not the same as producing. Learning about producing is not the same as producing. We can spend tremendous amounts of time doing fake work – we can futz around and claim that our dithering is “research” or “idea gathering” or “sharpening the saw.” Rubbish. Research, idea gathering, and sharpening the saw are necessary, but they are also purposeful tasks toward actually producing something.
Steve Jobs, when asked by the Macintosh design team to delay the release so they could work out some problems, simply replied “real artists ship.”
Makers Add Value
Andy Crouch puts it this way:
“Culture requires a public: a group of people who have been sufficiently affected by a cultural good that their horizons of possibility and impossibility have in fact been altered, and their cultural creativity has been spurred, by that good’s existence.”
Makers affect people by their work. They meet a need. These needs might be physical or they might be emotional. They might be tangible or intangible. They might be objective or they might be subjective. But the need is there and its real and true makers meet it with their artifacts.
Makers Love Making
It’s not about the rewards for the Maker, its about the making. So many people dream of writing books, but they don’t really like the process of writing – they just like the idea of having written. The true Maker embraces the process. She may not always like the process; it may be painful and difficult and dreary. But she knows that it’s like exercise – consistency is key. The maker may dread the doing, but she does it because she loves it. She loves the experience of their gifts being used to solve a problem, to fill a void, to meet a need. She loves the unique contribution that comes from her efforts.
Years ago, I studied acting at the SC Governor’s School for the Arts. One of our guest teachers told us very earnestly: “Don’t go into acting if you can do anything else.” If you can find satisfaction doing something else, then go into that instead.
Why this advice? Because the process of making in the theater is hard, painful, and frequently unappreciated. Don’t go into it, unless you absolutely have to make theater.
Interestingly, I heard the same advice about ministry.
So those are a few thoughts about the Maker Mindset. What do you think? What qualities are essential to the mindset of a Maker?
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