Slow is the New Fast

I took a slow, wondering walk through my neighborhood the other day.  It was approaching that hour where the sky is still lit with the warm golden rays of the sunset, and to the east, electric blue getting darker with every second.  As I meandered along the sidewalk with some happy music softly swooning in my ears, it seemed as if everything was right in my world.  With every step it seemed like I was shedding all of the stresses of the day, melting away all the minutes of traffic, loud noises, and annoyances.  Slowly I started to notice more and more detail in the world around me.  The pattern of the cracks in the sidewalk, how did they get there, I wondered, was it over time, or a quick snap of concrete in some big earthquake?   I noticed the tiny new buds on the Liquidambar trees that line the street, a sign that spring was emerging. The way the street lights seemed to burn orange spots of light onto the street.  I literally stopped and smelled the roses, several of them at that.  In this moment, it was like someone flipped a switch, I was totally connected to my surroundings, and totally in own little world at the same time… It felt like it was a magical ‘Moment of Clarity’.

Moment of Clarity

Moment of Clarity

In that ‘moment’, I realized several things.  In the modern world we have so many opportunities to be kind, and to inspire or be inspired, but in our day-to-day, it’s easy to rush around without paying attention how precious life is.  It’s so easy to forget to enjoy the journey. When you start to slow it down, even for just a moment, you will realize it opens up a space for you to deepen your understanding of what you truly want to achieve.  When you relish in the moment, it becomes apparent what truly catches your attention, and inspires you. 

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What Makes You Happy?

Have you ever simply walked into a space, and suddenly felt content? How about miserable?  Have you ever walked into a space and wanted to instantly turn around and walk out? 

British Museum

British Museum

One of the greatest, yet seemingly invisible causes of both our happiness and misery is the quality of our environments.   We subconsciously study the quality of the walls, furniture, and architecture and how everything is married together into one glorious or horrendous picture.  Even to the untrained eye, the difference of quality is apparent, yet it is often overlooked or even thought of by some as frivolous and opulent. 

Living with the eyes of a designer can be both a blessing and a curse.  I find myself sometimes so enamored with a space, that it distracts my attention as I study the tiny details that make my heart sing, and all of my conversations are littered with comments about it.  Spaces can also have the adverse effect, and I am sent into an imaginary panic mode, redesigning the space in my head as if my life depended on it.

The thing that makes me happiest, is walking into a new space and feeling instantly content, and like everything in the world is in a perfect balance, it’s the next best thing to a great yoga pose! 

What makes you happy?

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One World

It’s all there, isn’t it?  Yes, there is a magazine called Executive Travel, and yes, it does list the three vibrant cities of New York, London and Cincinnati.

Executive Magazine

Executive Magazine

So, incongruity is one of the key elements of humor and this one made me laugh, and then think.  We live in such an interconnected world that you probably could find identical counterparts in each of those three very diverse cultural markets.  You could find 3 guys dressed identically.  Three food trucks with fusion cuisine and lines around the block.  Sushi.  High speed Internet access.  People wearing Tom’s Shoes.  People wearing Lucky Brand Jeans.  Apple Stores.  Hell, there might even be 3 WalMarts.

So, it might be a dirty water dog in New York, bangers and mash in London and a coney in Cincinnati, but it is pretty much the same thing.  A hot dog. 

I was in a panel discussion two weeks ago at the Pacific Symphony Board meeting and we were speaking with the Presidents of both the Cleveland Orchestra and the Pacific Symphony. Two very different organizations facing identical economic and societal challenges in two very different markets.  While each orchestra hails from a different past, both face issues of relevance, social currency and cultural impact.  To say nothing of the shrinking attention span we all have to deal with.  That is a talk for another day.

A question arose about globalization, the idea of having a standard set and promoted through the expansive use of social and other media (recordings, DVD recordings of concerts, live streams, etc.).  And it was interesting to see the polarized response.  Many were against that.  What draws people to the art form is the personal, individual live experience.

Our clients are the same way.  You can see beautiful interiors anywhere you look, both real and virtual.  But the one that you can actually experience live is the one that matters most, in your own cultural context.  The one that fits your needs and wishes and reflects you.  In London, Cincinnati and New York.

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Uncovering Lessons from Design History

A good industrial designer needs to be a student of history.  So much can be learned by examining products that are 50+ years old.  Some read design theory books or visit museums. My preference is to get my hands dirty; to tangibly learn by examining and deconstructing antique furniture and products.  Whenever time allows I frequent flea markets, yard sales, off the beaten path antique shops and take a fresh look at the items I’ve collected.  Studying an old product’s design and construction can uncover lessons of design engineering wisdom.  And sometimes an Achilles heel even in a renowned design is discovered.   I’ve come to believe that time and use are the best critique of a design’s choice of materials and manufacturing methods. 

George Nakashima Coffee Table

George Nakashima Coffee Table

One of several Mid Century modern furniture classics that I inherited from my late father is an original George Nakashima coffee table which exhibits a thick slab of solid American Walnut wood.  

 

 

 

While the cantilevered top and natural edges of the table are elegant what lies almost hidden from plain sight is a brilliant, small, yet very significant engineering feature.  George hand chiseled an inset solid walnut bowtie into the end grain of the slab.  He strategically located it spanning across center of the slab most prone to checking.  A check is a crack that develops in solid wood as it dries over time.  George was a master at reading his material and engineering appropriately.  If he hadn’t done this or a similar solution the table top would not survive today.  50 years of New England seasonal climate swings and this check has been stopped in its tracks by this little clever bowtie detail.  Also significant is his design choice to hide the feature in the end grain instead of inlaying the joinery into the top surface.  By doing this he preserved the natural beauty of the wood’s grain without calling attention to this engineering detail.

 

Hans Wagner Chair

Hans Wagner Chair

This very comfortable folding chair was designed by Hans Wegner in 1949.  I’m lucky to own 2 of the originals, now more than 50 years old.   The chair’s seat and back solid Teak frames extend into legs yielding an innovative minimal design. 

This design pushed beyond the limits of solid wood as a material.  Repeated tensioning of the cane seat coupled with the slot being milled too close to the end of the frame led to the checking seen in the image below.   

Hans Wegner Chair - detail

Hans Wegner Chair - detail

Time has revealed a short grain Achilles heel seen in this design. Perhaps Hans became too dogmatic about this design and lost objectivity of material use.  Of course when he designed this he didn’t have the perspective that we do today to look at the outcome of the design after decades of time has taken its toll.  When confronted with a solid wood design that can’t avoid a short grain condition, one trick I learned is to use a blind ¼” diameter steel dowel pin running perpendicular to the potential check.  In this case the pins could have been bored up from the bottom of the frame at the two weak points on either side of this handle.  This would have given the short grain support across these stress points and would have been invisible to the user. 

Roller Bearing Drawer

Roller Bearing Drawer

Roller bearing drawer slides were revolutionary to the development of modern office furniture file cabinets, but on a recent excursion to a junk shop I uncovered a Mid Century gem of steel and wood that still give bearings a run for their money.   Akin to tank desks, this pair of 1950’s or 60’s steel dresser cabinets were stamped with their original GSA contract number and ‘Property of the U.S.’  Their top corners were formed with a nice radius, their paint was two tone: mauve and cream, and their brass pulls had decades of patina.  As I pulled out the steel drawers I marveled at the solid maple hardwood slides!    The rabbeted hardwood slid on formed steel hat channels on the cabinet’s interior.  

Further examination of the assembly process revealed no use of glue, screws or bolts to hold in the hardwood slides, therefore nothing to fail or become loose over the decades.  Each drawer had been engineered with a tapered sheet metal housing allowing the hardwood milled with the matching dove tail profile to slip in!  Once installed the sheet metal housing flanges were then crimped into the wood on the ends preventing the assembly from coming loose.   After 50 years of government service all of the drawers still work quite well.    

Roller Bearing Drawers

Roller Bearing Drawers

Learning to read an antique product’s use of material, finish and construction inform us of what works well and what should be improved with new design.    

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Case Study #22, The Stahl House

I had the opportunity recently to attend a showing of the Stahl House, Case Study #22 in the Hollywood Hills.  The house was made famous by Julius Schulman’s iconic photo of the house with two women sitting in the living room.  The case study contest was started by Art & Architecture Magazine after WWII in an effort to inspire architects to design beautiful simple modern homes for the middle class. 

Stahl House at night

Stahl House at night

 

The story of the Stahl house is as intriguing as the property.  Buck Stahl and his wife purchased the land in the late 50’s.  The land was almost unbuildable due to the severe slope and site conditions.  Buck and his wife would scavenge cement pieces from construction sites that they would load up in their Cadillac convertible and drive up to the property each weekend.  They used the cement pieces to build retaining walls and shore up the hill side.  Buck had a vision for land that one day it would one day be the site of  a modern family home.  He built a model of his ideas, hired Pierre Koening to help develop and implement his vision.  The house was completed in 1960.   To this day the home is owned by the Stahl family.

 

The story behind the house, the site, and history of the case study movement inspired me to visit and experience the house.   When the opportunity came to attend a showing I jumped at the chance.   We were able to get a night viewing, which further excited and intrigued me; the thought of experiencing the sunset at the Stahl was exhilarating.  The day came and we set off to the house.  As we drove up through the winding hills of Hollywood towards the home you couldn’t see the city.  It felt almost like a wooded forest road dotted with homes.  When you wind around the last corner you could see a vista of the city – it was breathtaking.  The city is rolled out in front of you and it goes on forever.  We pulled into the carport and anxiously waited behind the stone wall to enter the home.  After signing the appropriate paperwork the door opened.  You enter the home from the back side onto the patio pool deck.   The home is 1000 feet above the city floor and is cantilevering off the edge of the hillside.  It feels as though you could jump off and fly.   It was everything and more than I expected!  Stunning. 

Stahl House

Stahl House

 

The home is perfectly kept without any design changes from the day it was built.  It’s everything that is right with design and architecture.  Clean open simple spaces.  The entire main area of the home, which is one large room, is surrounded on all sides by glass.  There is a kitchen which becomes a dining area with a center fire place then an open living room.   The home has two bedrooms.  All of these areas surround the pool which overlooks the city as its back drop.  

 

When we arrived we saw the house in the bright day light, then the sun began to set and city lights came to life.  It was as though the back drop of the house was switched, from day to night. Two different scenes – both were memorizing and beautiful.   It evoked the feeling one feels while staring at the ocean; calming, intriguing absolutely magical!

 

We still talk about the house and what an amazing awe-inspiring place it is.

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Sadistic Whack-A-Mole

Every artist knows the creativity slump all too well. The Ultimate Brain Fart, “creative block.” (Dun Dun DUN!) You feel like your head is in a vice and you stare into the blank piece of your chosen medium as the theme song to The Twilight Zone echoes in the hollow shell that has now become your brain. You resort to the elementary theory of brainstorming with doodles, but the pencil screeches across your paper like nails on a chalkboard.

I finished reading Seth Godin’sThe Dip about a week ago and began to understand a concept that may seem basic, but is hard to master. The Dip (in a nutshell) is about learning when to hang on for dear life and push through a slump, and when to announce that it’s time to quit. A lot of times, it can be better to throw in the towel and know that enough is enough. Unfortunately, we creative types do not have that luxury a lot of the time. We have to push through the innovation quagmire and we have to force our next masterpiece out of ourselves. Sometimes we can get by on the seat of our pants and pull something out regardless, but there are those times where it doesn’t seem to matter how many breaks you take, how many thumbnails you pry out of yourself; nothing engages that finicky right side of your brain. Your creative sparks taunt you like a sadistic game of Whack-A-Mole in a rigged arcade.

Whether you’re in a creatively based job or not, there is something out there that inspires you. The kind of inspiration that makes you want to call out at the top of your lungs and pursue the passion regardless of how it may turn out. You could be watching Paula Dean and get inspired to bake something – who cares if it’s any good, that’s what 10 pounds of butter and cream are for. You may see a painting and run to the art store right then and there and buy as many painting supplies as your pinched wallet can handle. The kind of inspiration that makes your soul smile and gives you butterflies like the first kiss of true love.

For me, it’s music. I grew up in the music industry and could probably recite The Beatles discography in chronological order before I could walk. It was so ingrained in me from such a young age that I can’t imagine my life any differently. Art comes in a close second for me… both music and art can evoke emotions in me I never knew I’ve had. I’ve cried in front of paintings in the Louvre, and gotten full-body goose bumps when I hear a new song by one of my favorite musicians. A new piece of art in my home makes me feel like I’ve filled a hole in my very being, and new music makes me want to jump out of my skin with giddiness. That’s the kind of inspiration I’m talking about, the kind that you can’t hide from.  It may take me a while, but if I throw on the right song and stare at some of my artistic “flare” posted at my station, I feel like I can conquer the world.

I was listening to a song by one of my favorite artists a few weeks back, “End of the Line” by Murder By Death, and about half way through the song, a lyric jumped out of the speakers and slapped me in the face. He talks about a dark and mysterious girl who plants bullets in a flowerpot and it grows into a tree of barbed wire. His melancholy drone and lyrics create a contrast of this sad and sinister tree still being a product of care and love. His verbal imagery breathed life into my limp brain and inspired me to create, what has begun to be, one of my best art pieces to date. It just took those few short lines to get me going until I was able to finally smack that damn mole with the sledgehammer.

 

So what inspires you? What gets you out of your artistic slumpage? 

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Retinal Requiem

I am a ruined designer. My eyes burn red at the sight of standardized fonts (Comic Sans and Papyrus are the top two on my hit-list), and poorly used Photoshop preset effects (damn you bevel and emboss!). I went to school for Entertainment Design (movie posters/campaigns and video game ads), and my outlook on these posters changed dramatically over my years at FIDM. I learned so much about titles and effects and photography and even color schemes that determine the genre of the movie. (99.9% of the time, white background with red or bright text is a light-hearted comedy or holiday movie; characters lined up in a staggered row or a single looming character almost always means a horror film. Useless information from the brain of Natalie I know, but I bet you’ll start to notice these things now that I’ve pointed them out. (Insert evil, corrupting laugh here). I was living in Los Angeles at the time where you can’t go more than 50 feet without seeing some kind of movie ad, and I’d have mini panic attacks over poorly designed posters, or nearly wreck my car, elated by a captivating and well executed one. My eyes and brain were jaded with the babblings of my professors and the ever-growing knowledge of the semantics of the design industry.

 

Any graphic designer/artist knows this feeling and knows it well, even dreads it. You see an advertisement with a green background and red text, a pixelated picture, or an outer glow on text set at 100% opacity; you amuse your friends with the “I know that font” game. Non-designers don’t think twice about the aspects determining poor design, or merely say “Hmm, that looks funny/not right/oh well,” while us designer folk convulse in the corner.

 

Milton from "Office Space"

Milton from "Office Space"

Working for Tangram has been an interesting and refreshing experience so far. I have finally come into a world where I have very few preconceived notions, no real technical knowledge, and aside from my own personal taste in furniture, no real experience. Don’t get me wrong, I can appreciate any form of design, despite a lack of personal know-how, but a month ago, my only judgment of a desk chair was whether or not it was comfortable to sit in. I heard the words “office furniture” and thought of the movie Office Space: cubicles twisted into a maze with no sight of an exit, executive offices whose square footage and net worth rivaled that of a small mansion, and employees a pin-drop away from going postal. I thought “office furniture” and jumped directly to Corporate America, where the only excitement in an office is changing from Swingline to Boston staplers.  

 

So I started this job in relief from the panic attacks and preconceived, nitpicky design sight design school so kindly blessed me with. My eyes are however, starting to adjust to the Tangram guided judgment of the world of office furniture. I was watching a movie and I caught my eyes drifting past the fore fronted actors to judge the furniture set up in the background. “Hmm. That couch almost looks like the Await Lounge…” My eyes quickly darted back to the actors and I thought, “And so it begins…but really? So soon?” Becoming “ruined” in the world of design takes months, even years, to develop in to the hellish wrath that infects your brain. So for now, I am safe. Safe from the twitches and twangs of the minor brain aneurisms that are sure to unfold as I condemn set designers for choosing Ikea furniture over Steelcase, or the thoughts of “the Leap chair would look SOOOO much better there than that tacky $50 Staples thing.”

 

I’ll end this (note/ramble/blog) with a much-deserved thank you: I thank you, Tangram, for giving me a fresh look at the world of furniture, and my poor little brain a break from the zombie-like state bad design propels me into. And to my fellow designers, a question: what design faux-pas make your skin crawl?

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Minions vs. Masters

What makes an artist an artist?

My best friend and I got into a very interesting topic of conversation the other night when watching a YouTube video from this guy “Hennessy Youngman” who produced an albeit hilarious, yet intriguing thought arguing that “artist” Damien Hirst was NOT an artist due to the fact that he employs other people (aka his “crew”) to produce his art for him.

Okay…so what makes someone an artist? Their talent? Their medium? Their ideas? Their success? It’s something I’ve struggled to define between myself (and friends) for a while now. New “artists” are constantly emerging with concepts that require unconventional means of production. Artists like Mr. Brainwash, Damien Hirst, Cai Guo-Qiang, and even Shepard Fairey; some of them are world-renowned, but they don’t necessarily have a physical hand in the production of their art. So does that mean they’re not artists? If they employ other artists that specialize in the medium, does that mean that those people are the actual artists?

This isn’t the first age where artists have needed extra “help” in producing their pieces. Andy Warhol was notorious for employing people in his self-proclaimed factory to mass-produce his screen prints. But no one has ever attempted to diminish his status as an “artist”.  Plenty criticize his type of art, but not his title.   So what is it about this day and age that these “artists” are getting bashed for not having a hand in the physical manifestations of their pieces? 

There’s a great documentary called “Exit Through the Gift Shop” about world-renowned graffiti artist Banksy. The director of the film, Mr. Brainwash (without ruining the film for you) gets a LOT of grief over his artwork, which seems to be comprised largely of giving directions to other people. And even Banksy creates pieces that are played off of other famous paintings and artworks….so since he didn’t produce the original piece, is he no longer the artist of the newly proclaimed piece?

Mr-Brainwash next to one of his "pieces"

Mr-Brainwash next to one of his "pieces"

In his “The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living” (breathe!… yes that is the name of this thing), Damien Hirst features a tiger shark that is preserved and suspended in a glass tank of formaldehyde. Okay, that’s REALLY an unconventional medium, and, most would argue, a job for more than one person.  But to play devil’s advocate: how is Damien the proclaimed artist of this piece? Why does he have his name on the wall under the loquacious title of this piece? He even had someone fund the entire thing. So, to get your facts straight, he didn’t pay for it, he didn’t make it, he didn’t catch the shark, he didn’t build the tank….but he’s the artist.

"The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living" by Damien Hirst

"The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living" by Damien Hirst

Or Hirst’s piece that could be even more infamous than the “The Physical Impossibility of…” yeah that one… is his “For the Love of God” which features a platinum-cast human skull adorned in over 8,000 flawless diamonds. Again, Hirst didn’t DO any of the work…just had the idea (which apparently even THAT is debatable) and this thing is worth over $100 million and is the most expensive piece of art in history. (Rumor has it 80’s singer George Michael is the official owner but that’s a whole other hilarious conversation for later).

"For The Love of God" by Damien Hirst

"For The Love of God" by Damien Hirst

Cai Guo-Qiang created a piece called “Head On” that features a pack of 99 life-size wolves (don’t worry unlike Hirst’s shark, these aren’t real…just life-like mash-ups of wire, hay, and painted sheepskin) suspended mid-air that crash into a glass panel and pile into a heap on the floor. As remarkable and impressive as this massive installation piece is, Cai himself didn’t make every single wolf. He didn’t participate in the rigging of the installation; he didn’t put up the glass panel and arrange the wolves one by one. So, same argument.

"Head On" by Cai Guo-Qiang

"Head On" by Cai Guo-Qiang

Shepard Fairey (who started Obey Giant and produced the 2008 Obama campaign posters) is a special case in my opinion, because he does/did produce his own original pieces, but similar to Andy Warhol, he had other people mass produce it and continue the “original” pieces for him. Since his pieces are mass-produced into things like stickers, people often graffiti urban and suburban landscapes with his creations. (Okay, that’s just awesome self-promotion to me, but are those individuals included in his entanglement of artistic production?) I think he IS a true artist since he DID produce original concepts in the beginning. Now Shepard is considered to be one of the most well marketed graphic artists of our time. So he did produce his OWN pieces that were original concepts, but as for his little minions carrying on his work? Is it just that they don’t get enough credit?

Shepard Fairey

Shepard Fairey

It’s a heated and very easily debatable topic to say the least. At least it is in a roomful of egomaniacal “traditional” artists…I’m sure the greats of the Renaissance era would be rolling in their graves over this topic. Sure, artists with massive installations will need a helping hand here and there…but to have someone create the ENTIRE piece for you because you do not have the means, or shall we say, talent, to create the end result? I honestly don’t know what my true opinion is on the topic. As a designer/artist myself, I have SO many ideas that I would love to see produced, however, most require skillsets (like welding) that are beyond my means. So if I have this uber genius idea for something, but if I have someone else do some (or most) of the physical construction for me since I don’t know how to weld, am I no longer the artist of the piece? Well, if you stick me in the middle of it, then of course I’d say “Damn straight I’m the artist.” I mean, you could really say the same thing about architects. They’re not the ones out there physically building the structure, so are they not the creator of the building? You don’t see anyone doubting an architect’s creation, so why doubt contemporary artists’?

Minions vs. Masters - Damien Hirst with a "minion"

Minions vs. Masters - Damien Hirst with a "minion"

The creation of anything starts with an idea. The idea is the birthplace of something potentially amazing. So who is the true artist of the piece? The minion or the master? Make the above questions non-rhetorical and tell me: What makes an artist an artist? 

 

 

 

 

 

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Case Story: Incipio

Benching System

Benching System

My first experience with Incipio was a quick overview with the designer.  We discussed what the scope of the project was and the overall design intent of the workstations. As always seems to be the case, this order came in during a busy time and like most of our projects was put on the fast track. So after my quick review with my team on the project I thought I had a good handle on what the design was all about and jumped right into it.

There were about 5 different stations in all and each had their own difficulties. Weather it was the glass panels (always a headache) or making sure that the end panels and work surface related together in the right way, I think the most difficult intent behind almost all the stations were the varying heights of the staggered surfaces and making sure that all the parts worked together in as few different parts as possible. 

Whenever creating a custom solution for a client there is a lot of details to handle both in the field and in the design and engineering. Whatever the clients need our Studio team can rise to the occasion and provide a hands on experience to make sure their area stands out.  Overall the project was a good experience that would leave me with helpful tricks to use and some inspiration on possible design details in the future.

Benching System

Benching System

Above picture is of our benching system solution for this job. On this project one of our details in the workstations was the unique way that the end panel integrated with the top work surface. Another great solution is the integrated wire manager to help conceal all the cords and have a clean appearance. 

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Wash Your Hands

Hand Sanitizer

Hand Sanitizer

So I have spent a lot of time in hospitals lately.  And if that weren’t enough, we just finished mocking up a healthcare showspace upstairs at our headquarters location.  Creepily accurate.  And we are in the throes of the renewal process for our major medical insurance partners and are up to our elbows investigating Wellness Programs. 

Anyway, with the recent birth of our first grandchild who needed to do a stay in the NICU at Children’s Hospital, I have been in medical settings even more than usual.  As always, when I am in a new or unfamiliar situation, what I do is watch and listen.  I learn.  In this case, I’m just the grandparent, not the primary caregiver, so I am even less conspicuous when doing so.  Plus, as you get old, you become invisible to most of the population anyway, but that’s a rant for another day.

The nurses in the NICU are young, vibrant, great communicators and wonderful teachers.  They also deal with a ton of varied cases.  They care for babies in all stages of development and illness and with parents, friends and family who have who knowledge of what is going on.  They are expected to retain poise, professionalism and health under all sorts of battle conditions on a daily basis and show up as brilliant and informed medical practitioners.  And how do they do that?  Well, one thing I know that helps is great, functional furniture to work in.  But that’s not it.  They wash their hands. 

In between patients.  After a diaper change (good idea).  Periodically.  After touching the keyboard to chart.  After shaking hands.  All the time.  It is a discipline. 

A friend is an internist at a major hospital on Long Island and once told me the only key she knew to staying healthy was to wash her hands.  Often.  The right way; long enough with the right soap and water that is hot enough.  At the NICU the protocol is posted on the wall.

So, what does that have to do with the Inspired Manager?  How many encounters did you have today, when a staff member or colleague showed up at your door, downloading about current priorities, issues, frustrations, problems or anything else?  Were you interrupted?  Did you make space for them?  Did you engage and allow them to handle their stuff or did you take on their stuff for them? 

Washing your hands removes the residue of your prior task, prior mindset, prior business, finished or unfinished.  If you use hand sanitizer it neutralizes it.  You are then ready for the next task.  Like listening.  When you’re done, wash again, removing the last encounter and getting clean for the next one. Get clean in between each encounter, and don’t let anything spill over!

As I sit here, memories of botched encounters flash across my mind.  I was interrupted.  I was not fully present.  As I slowly got disengaged from the prior issue and engaged in the new one, I wasn’t poised.  I took on the tone of the person I was hearing instead of remaining present.  I shudder at the look I must have had on my face.

So, now I keep hand sanitizer on the counter in my office.  To do its job for sure.

And to help me do mine.

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