The journalist Steve Lopez tells a story that now I’m going to tell. Just because I like it so much.
It’s about perfection. Or rather, a healthy attitude about the goal of perfection. It’s about a teacher and sculptor Lopez knows called Armand Mednick, someone who was “adored” by all the students at the grade school attended by Lopez’s son.
When Lopez goes to see him, Armand’s wife, Anita, tells him that the great man was out in back making a pot. The next time Lopez comes, same thing. He’s out in the back making a pot. So Lopez asks the sculptor how often he spends his time making pots. “Often as I can,” Armand says.
Lopez asks, “What do you do with all the pots?” A
nd Armand says, “I just keep discarding them until I make the perfect pot.”
“And how long does it take to make the perfect pot?”
“I don’t know yet. . . . So far, it’s been 40 years.”
Now, this is a swell story not because it shows the great sculptor being “humble” but because it shows him being ambitious. Nobody can spend his whole life trying to get better and better at making just one thing, a thing he always throws away. And of course, Mr. Mednick does not make pots for a living, he teaches and sculpts.
But his pot-making is a great metaphor, a fabulous metaphor. It’s about always striving to be better at what you do, no matter what it may be. Don’t you wish the clerk at the local supermarket had that same attitude?
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.