May 16


Lots of projects are underway and seem to have reached their mid-point. One project is DONE, I think: the Ramada Grande. And muy grande it is, too. So much better than the original plan–I am glad Steve had this brainstorm and followed through on it! Kivas seem to be halfway done already and most of the small wood pieces that fit between the wood ceiling and the adobe blocks are in place too.

Much activity is now focused on preparing for the roof. Steve talks about parapet walls and pony walls and other walls–these will be for the air and heating ducts and the electrical wiring that needs to be brought throughout the house. THEN we can build the roof.

In other news, I am now looking at tile samples. Woo hoo!



No hike today. Too hot = 95 degrees. Everyone says May and June are usually the hottest months in Far West Texas and I am wearing shorts and sandals now. Bella and Niles have their tongues hanging out when we visit the building site or go hiking and they drink buckets of water. Well, so do I, for that matter. Drink buckets of water, that is. I don’t think my tongue is hanging out. Yet.

I’ve been thinking about some of my favorite quotes regarding progress. Now that I am retired and no longer having to gauge progress by what OTHERS have achieved (since I was a middle-manager most of my career, personal accomplishments were required, of course, but motivating everyone else was an absolute necessity!), I look at progress a bit differently.

I am better able to see the “process” of progress and its cousin, change. I no longer must be “product-driven,” meaning I can take time to see how things are changing, if they are changing, and perhaps why or why not. I am not only talking about the house construction here, of course. I am also talking about my own life.

Anyway, before I get too philosophical, here are some of my favorite thoughts about change, progress, and perfection. Perfection? How did that get in here….?

The art of progress is to preserve order amid change and to preserve change amid order. –Alfred North Whitehead

Retirement is a work in progress. I try to figure out my day, and what I know about myself is that I need structure. –Pete Sampras (personal note: Yes.)

Life is all about making progress. It is never about perfection. –Anonymous

Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work. –Aristotle

Waiting for perfect is never as smart as making progress. –Seth Godin

Bre Pettis was one of the last technology thinkers I encountered in my career and he made me think hard about achievement, failure, and progress. Bre is all about making things and getting things DONE. His Cult of Done Manifesto, which he and his friend Kio (they would become parents together later on but that is a different story) published in 2009 and which I presented at a library association meeting in 2010 (pretty fast for library work!), really rocked some traditional librarians, who are generally all about perfection and who fear failure, naturally, because their organizations penalize failure.

Bre, who made the cover of Wired Magazine recently and is the leader in desktop 3D printing, realizes that perfection is often not possible in this fast-moving world we live in now because it takes so much time, so making things that are “good enough” and moving on to the next thing is an important aspect of progress. And so are mistakes and failures. At the heart of his thinking is the notion that, if you don’t know something, then you should try to do that thing and see if you can figure it out. Angsting over what you do not know is much worse than failing at an attempt at doing something. At the time, I was not suggesting that we allow those errors in our work to continue to exist once we find them–but I was suggesting that struggling with an annual strategic plan and arguing over the language of that plan for an entire year was not getting the work DONE. Or the WORK done. Sometimes what you have already DONE is GOOD ENOUGH. Fear is what keeps you from calling it DONE.

Now these observations should in no way whatsoever be applied to the building of my house! Ha ha. I want Steve and his crew to strive for perfection at all times. And yet I realize that progress on this house is a constant balancing act between achieving perfection and getting something “done” so everyone can move on to the next thing. Steve is a great risk manager and also a perfectionist. I think he is probably Aristotelian (see above quote by Aristotle). I am so lucky to have him as the planner and “maker” of this house–he is not afraid to get his hands dirty and he and his team are always getting things DONE.

Anyway, here is the Cult of Done Manifesto Poster (which I had on my bulletin board in my office at the library and will put up on my bulletin board in my office in my new house). See what you “make” of it:

cult of done poster Bre Pettis

Read the Manifesto out loud. Some of the points are so antithetical to the ways in which we think about work. And life. I love #13. It is a call to action.

And speaking of “dirty hands,” I do not know that the Dirt Poster was inspired by Bre’s Manifesto, but it is a splendid example of his point in action. You cannot “read” this poster if you are not willing to get your hands dirty.


OK. So you have read this far. Cool! Here is the kicker:

How do these points apply to my own life?

Being a multi-tasker, I made a list.

The Cult of Done Manifesto points remind me:

  1. not to obsess over everything
  2. to be more spontaneous in my thinking and my actions
  3. to deny fear (which is a proactive way to say “I will not be afraid”)
  4. to acknowledge mistakes and move on
  5. to do things even when I am only pretending I know what I am doing
  6. to know that failure is ALWAYS an option
  7. to be willing to get my hands dirty

This is my life now and many of the paradigms of my past are really useless. I have to discover a way to be that is MY way to be. The Cult of Done Manifesto is a signpost on my road.

PS. After all this rumination on progress and change and getting things DONE, I look at the pictures of the house “in progress” and I say out loud: “This house is going to be so beautiful I am going to effing cry.” 🙂

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