Hot on the heels of a coaching session discussing authenticity and leaving our mark, I watched one of my favourite TV shows – Grand Designs. I just love the scale of ambition shown and the inevitable dramas around executing on time and on budget (rare!).
I was struck by a gorgeous London home which was built using bricks from Denmark. This confounds Economics 101 which would suggest that Denmark would have no comparative advantage over the UK in producing house bricks (a low tech product) and that shipping costs would be an extra cost to bear. What makes these Danish bricks so special? The answer lies in methods honed since the formation of the company, Petersen Tegl, as far back as1791. The bricks are hand-crafted and have the hallmark of the thumb prints of their maker.
In our highly-automated world, this “mark of the craftsman” has appeal beyond the utilitarian. For some, the attraction lies in the honest and direct connection with the maker. For others, the fact that the bricks are not uniform is aesthetically pleasing and enchanting.
I see these thumb-marked bricks as a metaphor for our authenticity and leaving a personal stamp. As with the bricks, there are some constraints; all of the bricks are rectangular and watertight – and, similarly, we need to be able to fulfil the underlying job in hand. However, we can look for ways to celebrate our individuality and explore where we can leave a special impression.
Remember these bricks sell at a premium!