Friday, June 12, 2015

Letter to a Woodworker Pt. 3

The subtitle of this entry should be " A Party of One". As I've reached out over the years and met so many other makers, there is one constant that seems to transcend ability or interest. It's the characteristics of introversion that nearly all of us exhibit. It's especially noticable during a big show like Handworks, wherein exhibitors and attendees alike seem to share this trait. It's like a loner convention.

I suppose it's worth defining what I mean by introvert. A book that I recently read called "Quiet" by  Susan Cain does a great job of describing it. I only realized the extent of my own traits upon reading it and felt a huge sigh of relief to learn that I wasn't the only one. Basically there is a spectrum of introvert extrovert and everyone falls somewhere along it. Perhaps the greatest sign of introversion is that social interaction is draining and alone time is very necessary to "recharge". I am a bit jealous of people that gain energy at social interaction, for me, it is hugely desirable, but leaves me drained.

This may come as a bit of a surprise to those who have only seen be in my role as a teacher or public speaking. But in those moments I am excited and engaged by the challenge of communicating and sharing my love of the craft. Take note of my whereabouts after the talk, I usually slip away to a quiet corner to gather my energy.

What has this got to do with starting a business as a woodworker? Woodworking is a solitary sport and starting a business is a very personal challenge, pitting your abilities and desires against the world at large. If you are uncomfortable with intense periods of alone time or self motivation without external influence or support, you might find starting an operation that stems from a single operator a tough road. Of course the extrovert might find the sales and marketing of their work much easier as they  naturally gravitate towards interaction, whereas the more introverted might prefer to stay in the shop making stuff. Cultivating both abilities, public presentation and private achievement are both essential to making a go of it as a woodworker.

It is worth stating that there will most certainly be periods, probably extended ones in which it's just you, the work and the voices in your head. This should be considered and expected, especially if you are prone to depression or as many creatives are, self doubt. Reaching out to others in the field, such as I do often through shows like Handworks or WIA is a good idea.

I don't have any great words of wisdom on this subject, it's so very personal. I've spent many years both indulging my introvert tendencies and fighting them. If you haven't paid much attention to your own tendencies, starting down this road will likely bring them into focus.


Ray Schwanenberger said...

Great post, very informative. I think I found another book to add to my must read list.

mckenzie said...

Hey Peter,

Really enjoying your 'letter to a woodworker' series, hitting close to home on many fronts.

Angostura Bitters said...

I love this series, Mr. Galbert - I'm gonna pick up a copy of "Quiet" as your post resonates with me fully. Cant deal with the world without recharging in my shop, happily puttering away on whatever project it is in the moment.

Anyway, thank you for posting your notes on working as a privateer. It is invaluable and so generous of you.

-Adam of Oakland, CA

Peter Galbert said...

Thanks Ray, it's good to talk on this topic

Peter Galbert said...

Adam, I'm glad to hear that you're enjoying it

Tico Vogt said...

Slipping away to a quiet corner to recharge, eh, like "Wild Hogs"? It's so quiet in there you can hear a tractor pull.

Bern said...

Nailing this series Pete. You are clearly ringing bells for a lot people including myself. This path is lousy with self doubt and constant questioning and the nature of introversion may prevent you from ever shaping fears and frustrations into words let alone being able to share them with anyone. This type of shared reflection can really be of significant relief as knowing you are not alone in your struggles often makes all the difference. Well done my mate.

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Anonymous said...

Pete, this is is a fascinating series of posts with this one taking the cake up 'til now. I've always fancied myself an extrovert but then again, I've always spent lots of time by myself. Maybe a performing introvert is more appropriate? When I'm not in front of a crowd, or it's just me and my close friends/family, I'm normally pretty quiet. The introspection from these posts is therapeutic. Thanks.

Peter Galbert said...

I think "performing introvert" says a great deal! Thanks