Thursday, June 16, 2016


"It's a Labor of Love"

I have heard this cliche repeatedly as I grind away on this rehab and I have come to loathe it. Like most cliches, however, it is half right.  The rehab of Adagio is labor.

An Equally Old Story
However, what I am doing is not unique. In fact, it's an old story: Boy finds boat. Boy falls in love with boat. Boy restores and relaunches boat. It is a story told every month in Wooden Boat magazine and in countless other boatyards country wide.

However, an equally old story is the one about the rehab or rebuild that began with gusto only to wither and die a slow, debilitating death.

But, many come by and ask how I keep on doing it (and follow with "It must be a Labor of Love")

What Motivates People? 

We all know that, early on, the mind supplies the vision of the finished project and that vision fuels the work. However, in time, the weight of the project slowly crushes the vision.

So, what motivates those who finish from those who don't?  Much is written on this topic and I'm not going to rehash it here, but I have always believed that a critical element of Motivation is Purpose. Whatever the goal, it must be part of an overarching Purpose that is Personally Meaningful and Clearly Stated.  The Purpose must convince you that your world will be a better place with your project complete than incomplete.

Without a clear, meaningful Purpose, you (or your organization) will fall short of your goal. If you look beneath the surface of any significant achievement, you will find this clarity of Purpose. And, by the way, if the Purpose of your project is not meaningful and clear, why are you doing it?

As a Recovering Corporate Drone, I sat through endless presentations of SMART goals (all goals should Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic and Timebound). While there is some truth to the SMART goal format, it is secondary to Purpose.  If there is no clear, meaningful Purpose, your goals can be as SMART as Einstein and still fail.

Fig A. Really?
My Purpose 

If I wrote that my Purpose is to give my life over to the restoration of wooden boats, that would be as lofty as it is wrong. There are some wooden craft (and a lot of plastic craft - anything made by Bayliner for example) that I have no interest in seeing on the water (See Figure A and its ilk).

My Purpose in this rehab is simple: To get this particular boat back on the water. Moreover, not only can I see her on the water, I can see the symmetry in her rigging, her angle of heel in a fresh breeze, the sturdy look of her bronze - I can even smell the fresh paint.  That's what I mean by "clarity".

It is meaningful to me because I have always loved classic, gaff rigged working sailboats, their rugged craftsmanship and the traditions they represent. While it is an important part of our heritage, to me, it seems real and pure (that does sound lofty, but it's true).

what Might Have Been

In my mind, this particular Friendship was simply too pretty to become a planter. The arc of her sheer and the quality of her construction required salvation and a trustee. Someone had to take her off the beach, so I did.

The Spirit is Willing, but the Flesh is Weak

But . . . .

There are times when the clarity of Purpose is not enough. Sometimes, you need more. Some people tell friends their goals so they can be cheered on and shamed into doing it. Some have notes tacked up in strategic positions which goad them into action and some have playlists that pump them up and refresh the dream.

I have three pictures, one in my head and two on the boat. The one in my head is a picture taken from amidships of  Desiree looking forward on a port tack. For reasons I cannot explain, this picture reminds me why I'm doing this. Maybe the warm beauty of the wooden spars against the full sails, maybe the bowsprit pointing the way or maybe it's just a well-framed shot. I don't know. It simply represents what will be.

 The other two pictures are signs. One says "It's not Furniture; it's a Boat!"  This is the boatyard equivalent of  Voltaire's "Perfect is the Enemy of the Good."  Since perfection is as elusive as unicorns and fairy gold, chasing it will keep the boat out of the water forever. This thought runs through my mind repeatedly and keeps me from becoming obsessive about a particular task.

The other sign?: "It's not going to do itself."  This is self-explanatory, but I can tell you that it pushes me to do something every day howsoever little.

So, set all the SMART goals you want, but if you want to finish, have a Purpose. Oh, and someone to kick you in the slats - even if it is just a sign.


1. For an excellent treatment on Motivation see Dan Pink's Drive.  In it, he posits that people are motivated when they have Autonomy (Self Direction), Mastery (something they want to get better at) and Purpose (see above).

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