Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Tales My Mother Told Me Volume 2- Tale 1: Pulling Up the seedlings to help them grow

"Pulling up the seedlings to help them grow"

Welcome to the first tale in volume two of “Tales My Mother Told Me”.

This very first tale was a lesson for me to learn when I was a young boy. Now thinking back on the situation, all I can do is to laugh out loud. I remember how impatient I was back then (and I guess I am still little bit) *chuckle chuckle*

The situation took place at home when I was only 7 years old. I had a school project to do for my pottery class. The whole class was required to create an orange out of clay, and the student who created an object most like a real orange would receive the top mark and a prize. So I was very excited and rushed home to get a start on the project.

"What’s all the excitement my little one?" Mum asked
"I have to make an orange out of clay mum for this school project" I said with excitement.

I really enjoyed the process of playing with clay, and it took about 20 minutes to finish the fruit.

"Mum come and have a look at my orange. Do you think it looks real enough?" I asked.

"It does, it looks great. What colour are you going to paint it?" mum asked

"I love the Vietnamese Green Orange, it so green and so sweet" I said with a big smile.

My next step was to get the green paint ready. And, as I went off to find some paint, I said "Mum I’m going to paint it now."

"Now now my little one,  the clay is still wet. You’ll need to let it dry before you can paint it." Mum advised.

"Oh really? Do I have to wait? How long mum? " I asked impatiently.

"It could take a day or two.” Mum suggested. “Leave it out the balcony for it to get some sunlight. It will dry quicker; but try to avoid direct sunlight."

It was pretty clear to everyone that two days was going to be far  too long for me to wait. I needed to find a way to speed up the process. Then came an idea! I can dry it with my sister’s hair dryer.

So somehow I persuaded my sister to lend me her hair dryer and I started to dry the orange. After about half an hour the orange was dry to touch and I quickly started to paint it the green colour I had selected and was working to perfect the skin tone of the orange too.

I was so happy with the result that I quickly told Mum about it. "Guess what Mum, I came up with the idea to dry the orange, I got sister’s hair dryer and blew it for about 30 minutes so it was completely dry. And look! I've painted it too. Look Mum!"  I said with such a happy voice.

"My dear one, I hope it's dry enough, otherwise you'll be disappointed later. I know you are very keen to do this project but you are too impatient. You are as silly as the farmer who pulled up the seedlings to help them grow." Mum said with just a hint of disappointment.

"It will be fine mum look at it. It's beautiful. Just like a real one!" I said with a cheeky smile.

Mum shook her head and said simply..  "You are silly and impatient boy."

The very next morning I couldn’t help myself. I jumped out of bed and raced to check out my work of art. To my horror it was cracked and bubbled.

“All my hard work wasted mum" I sobbed.

All my sisters and brothers were giggling, and my eldest sister said " You really are as silly as the farmer who pulled up the seedlings to help them grow".

"What is that got to do with my orange?" I asked.

“Hasn't Mum told you the story yet? We’ve all learnt our lesson from it, and now it’s your turn to learn from it ha ha" my sister laughed.

"You are not helping. Go away" I said with a tear in my eye.

"Now now little one, don't be like this. Would you like to learn from the story about the silly farmer who tried to help his rice field by pulling the shoots up?"

"Okay Mum, tell me please" I said.

Mum settled down and started to tell the story...

Back in the olden times in China there was a silly farmer who was impatient by nature. He thought his rice shoots were growing too slowly so one day he decided to help them grow faster by pulling them up higher. After a full day of hard work he went home and bragged to his family; " Guess what, I’ve found a solution to help the rice shoots grow faster." After hearing this, his son quickly headed to the field to check out the rice field and to his horror all the rice shoots had withered.

“Now my little one, can you understand the story and how it relates to your situation with your clay orange?” my Mum asked.

"Oh, I guess so!” I rushed with my orange but I thought it was dry. And that’s why I started painting it."

"Yes,” Mum said, “it looked dry, but only the surface, inside the orange the clay was still wet. It needs to air dry completely otherwise it will crack.”

So what can we learn from this old story, and how can we apply it to our Art and Design practice?

This story refers to spoiling things because of being over-anxious for results. In business the same thing applies too.

Here are some tips to avoid the same situation in your business.

  • Cutting corners - Sometimes in business we want everything yesterday. This is particularly dangerous when you decide to cut corners to get the results you need. This often back-fires. It’s important for any business to start with solid foundation and gradually build the business at different stages. If you follow your business plan and set targets to achieve then you don't have to rush or be over-anxious.
  • Comprise quality for price  -  This is a tough one. We meet lots of business owners who tried to sell the same product for a cheaper price and lowering the quality of material and workmanship too. This will affect your branding. You could lose loyal customers as they will no longer trust your brand. If you build the brand of your business over time you don't have to compromise with prices or quality.

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