Pay attention to the shiny things

This is good advice for just about anyone, but I think it is of particular value to architects.

I spent the weekend traveling, I was in Manhattan, Kansas speaking to the students at the College of Architecture, Planning and Design at Kansas State University. Last week that was one of the busiest weeks I’ve had in some time (which is saying something) and as I spent my evenings towards the end of last week putting together my presentation, I spent a lot of time wondering what sort of information should I present to these young architecture students?

One of the items that I have been keeping in my back pocket for a while – because I think it is terrific advice – came from an address by Tim Minchin when he received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Western Australia. He is an arts student and graduate from UWA who is described as “sublimely talented, witty, smart and unabashedly offensive”. I’ll admit that I hadn’t ever heard of him before discovering this particular speech that he delivered. The entire speech is worth listening to, but I have typed up the bit that I think is of particular value to architects.

shiny things -school of scad

“You don’t have to have a dream. Americans on Talent shows always talk about their dreams, fine if you have something that you’ve always wanted to do, dreamed of … like in your heart – go for it, after all it’s something to do with your time, chasing a dream, and if it’s a big enough one, it will take you most of your life to achieve so by the time you get to it and you’re staring into the abyss of the meaningless of your achievement, you’ll be almost dead so it won’t matter.

I never really had one of these dreams and so I advocate the passionate dedication to the pursuit of short terms goals – be micro ambitious. Put your head down and work with pride on whatever is in front of you – you never know where you might end up. Just be aware the next worthy pursuit will probably appear in your periphery which is why you should be careful of long-term dreams – if you focus to far in front of you, you won’t see the shiny thing out the corner of your eye”

- Tim Minchin

In light of the recent conversation we had here on Life of an Architect on just how long it takes to become an architect (almost 17 years of education, internship, and examination), I thought it would be particularly good timing to bring up the idea of working on short-term goals and they value – and satisfaction – that they can bring to your career.

If you would like to hear the entire speech from Tim Minchin, here is the video … please enjoy.

Here’s to the passionate dedication to the pursuit of short-term goals,

Bob AIA signature