How you do anything.... / by Joan Chamberlain

You know the saying "How you do anything is how you do everything". I remind myself of this almost every day. Along with an abridged quote I have hanging in my work space "Put all that you are into the least that you do", these are as close to a mission statement as I've ever had for myself. Some may think either statement is the mantra of a perfectionistic, over-achieving, pain-in-the-ass. I like to think I'm much more likeable than any of those adjectives suggest, so I would like to explain what I find so compelling about those statements.

Doing each thing to the best of ones ability actually simplifies life. It removes the stress of decision making. Example: I have an idea for a drawing. I want to sketch a cluster of tomatoes next to a cook's hands. Tomato vines - they're kind of scratchy and irregular, right? Do they branch evenly or do they alternate as they come off of the main branch? I could get up and walk into the other room to check, but I'm comfortable on the patio. Does it really matter? Who's going to notice or care? They're just in the background anyway. I've just wasted time and energy debating with myself over whether my art deserves my best effort. And there's the rub - some equate doing the best or right thing with more effort.

Tomatoes & Vine, ©2015 Joan Chamberlain

Here's the alternative to that scenario: I want to sketch a cluster of tomatoes. Get up and go get the cluster sitting on the kitchen counter. End of discussion. If it seems like a silly example, you probably won't have to look long for one in your own life. We bargain with ourselves many times a day. Making a decision to always give your best effort is one decision vs. an endless string of should I..., if I..., is it absolutely necessary questions.

I've practiced dentistry for 35 years. Some time ago I decided that I would do whatever it took for a good outcome and a happy patient. If a crown almost fits, but not quite, whether the patient would ever know it or not, it gets returned to the lab for a redo. Yes, a remake cuts into the profit for that procedure - both in actual costs and chair time - but it's non-negotiable. I take all the bargaining out of the mix and just answer the question "Does it fit?". If not, I redo it and move on. I know patients appreciate the acknowledgment and effort, and I don't go home with nagging doubts.

So, I do my best to bring all that I am to everything that I do. The beauty of it is I'm still discovering what "all that I am" means. I'm enjoying the discovery and I hope it shows in my work.