Yesterday I met Dorinda Mangan who had come to Las Vegas with a group of Denver folks to attend a Super Bowl event. We connected at my favorite hotel, Bellagio, for a chatty brunch. 

Then I suggested that we walk to the sculpture gallery where Richard MacDonald’s stunning work is displayed.  MacDonald is a figurative artist who has worked with Cirque du Soleil performers to create some intriguing works of art. 

What I love most of all about the exhibit is the video showing MacDonald at work. Each piece begins with an exploratory session as the acrobats and dancers pose and perform while he studies their movements. 

When they strike a pose that MacDonald likes, he stops them. Then they have to hold the pose while he makes a clay model. Eventually, the sculpture may be cast in bronze. It’s fascinating to watch the artists at work and see what goes into this collaborative process.

It seems to me that we’d all be a great deal more patient if we could watch others going through the building/creating process. We’d quickly discover that the things we admire the most demanded a hefty investment of time. 

Maybe we’d stop asking ourselves, “Why is it taking so long?” when our own plans seem to be advancing at a snail’s pace. The truth is that it’s very difficult to estimate how long it will take to do something we’ve never done before. Yet we do just that over and over again.

It’s been about a year since my sister Margaret started her delightful business, Over the Top Fascinators. Last week I got an e-mail from her giving me an update—and insight. 

She wrote, Gretchen (her daughter and web master) said yesterday that she feels the business is just now really being launched, and I agree. The whole last year was about learning how to make things properly, sourcing the materials and building up enough designs to make it look like more than a hobby. 

“We’re looking for a partner to share a booth at the spring Art Walk downtown (there’s a local maker of purses from vintage fabric we like a lot) and I’m thinking I want to advertise on the website Offbeat Bride. I will still work with the bridal shop, but their style is a little traditional and flashy for me. I want the brides getting married on the beach to find me.”

While deadlines are useful for outsmarting procrastination, it’s equally useful to realize that laying a foundation can take an investment of time. Predicting what that will be, is the tricky part. As Seth Godin points out, “Figure out how long your idea will take to spread, and multiply by 4.”

Honestly, if you aren’t willing to invest your time, you’ll be better off punching someone else’s time clock.

5 Responses to “Willing To Invest Your Time?”

  1. Jane Snell Copes

    It really helps to look back (briefly!) to see progress. I’ve certainly been busy in my business over the past few years, but I’m more and more finding my stride as time goes on. Thanks for the reminder to take some more deep breaths!

  2. Traci Johnson

    The line, “The truth is that it’s very difficult to estimate how long it will take to do something we’ve never done before” is perfect timing for me. I am just beginning my work as an artist and I keep experimenting with new ideas and techniques. I get frustrated at times when something doesn’t turn out the way I want but my very supportive husband keeps reminding me that this is all new to me and I have to be patient with myself.

    Thanks for the great post Barbara!

  3. Barbara Winter

    Thanks, Traci. And lucky you for having your fan club president living under the same roof. Sometimes I think it’s borderline arrogance to declare a timeline when we have no idea what it will actually require of us. I am guessing that anyone who’s ever remodeled a house is quite aware of this time/estimate dilemma.

  4. Penny

    Thanks Barbara. This was a good reminder. I am a working artist whose business suffered when I found it necessary to work at another job. It is taking more time than I expected to recover. What is truly wonderful about the whole process is how much I have grown as a person. I have a new commitment to making my business work no matter what or how long it takes.

  5. Barbara Winter

    Great point, Penny. I think a real sign of commitment is when we assume the attitude of “for however long it takes.” Sometimes, it’s not as long as we thought!

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