Value of True Artisanship

By Rob Keefer

We too easily forget that our work can stand the test of time. An artisan continues the relentless pursuit of quality, despite understanding that their life might end before they realize their vision.

Artisans picked up their tools and broke ground on the magnificent Notre Dame de Chartres Cathedral in 1194. They spent 66 long years of craft and toil and sacrifice to breathe life into one man’s vision. Through constructing such a grand cathedral, the Master Builder of Chartres revolutionized medieval architecture and ushered in the new era of Gothic Style. His innovation, persistence, and dedication to his craft lives on in generations of great architects, artists and writers, who, for centuries, have continued to flock to Chartres, in search of inspiration.

Nearly three hundred years after the grand cathedral was erected, lightning struck the sanctuary’s wooden spire, setting the masterpiece ablaze until it burned down to nothing. The Church commissioned a master mason, Jehan de Beauce, to construct the spire’s replacement. As the new spire took shape, de Beauce’s exceptional devotion and skill so impressed church leaders that they proposed he switch focus from construction of the spire to the design and construction of the second bell tower, immortalizing his legacy.

De Beauce never lived to see his creation completed and relied on the artisanship of the great sculptors that followed him to realize his vision.

Today the pointed silhouettes of the Notre Dame de Chartres Cathedral soar into the sky, imposing the power and brilliance of true artisanship upon those who cast their eyes upwards. How did de Beauce arouse and ignite such passion into a project that spanned the decades after his death?

A Master Builder in the Middle Ages was both designer and constructor of the monument he envisioned. Building plans often existed only in the designer’s mind, so the position also demanded expertise in the art of construction.

The Master Builder would direct his labor force to lift, drag, and shove giant slabs of stone into place. Skilled craftsmen, each an artisan in their own right, would then step in and fashion individual components of the structure. Under the direction and leadership of the Master Builder, every step of the project played out like a symphony. However, since no one could match the Master Builder’s understanding of the intricate details he envisioned, he sculpted the major pieces himself until the time came to pass his life work over to a trusted companion who shared his values and desire to finish.

Imagine Jehan de Beauce pacing around the unfinished bell tower as his team of artisans chiseled his vision into monolithic slabs of stone. Picture the expression he wore while orchestrating his labor force as they hoisted finished units into place. What do you see?

We often connect this passion for work with an intenseness, focus, and ability to stay ‘in the zone.’ Somebody who possesses this inherent yet undefinable quality. Somebody who finds, harnesses, and embodies a true flow state. We call this somebody an artisan.

An artisan remains patient and attentive. She carves her own path and persistently forges her way forward. Her peace of mind emanates harmony into her surroundings, her relationships, and her work. The fruits of her labor embody her artisanship and provide a haven that shields her from the chaos of everyday life.

An artisan draws closer to this harmonious state through their labor, while others struggle and fall into conflict over their purpose.

The average American worker does not possess this trait. You cannot press a button, cross your fingers, or wish peace of mind into existence. It’s an approach that bleeds into every facet of your work.

Our endeavors might not match the great Gothic cathedrals of the Middle-Ages, but they can stand the test of time. We easily forget this truism. An artisan finds peace on the same spiritual plane as Jehan de Beauce, with a connection that stretches across time, embodying a relentless pursuit of quality, despite understanding that their life might end before they realize their vision.

At Harmonics Way, our vision is to provide resources and support for fellow artisans who view their work as a craft - a reflection of their unique contribution to the world. We encourage you to discover your unique optimal work experience through experimentation and thoughtful implementation of principles, processes, and practices.

If the story of Jehan de Beauce resonates with you, the Harmonics Way may guide you towards the fulfillment you deserve. Fully and completely engaging with tasks can lead to the happiest moments in your life. It can help you engineer your work experiences to consistently operate from this place of joy in engagement. Let us know if you'd like to contribute to our growing community.

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