Craftsmanship will outlast passion.

The theme of time bounces around a lot when thinking about craft.

We ask ourselves questions like “How long until I’m a master?”, “When will I be able to make more money, win awards, get more clients?”, “Shouldn’t I have seen improvement by now?”

One thing that seems certain is that the longer we’ve been working, the less energy we seem to have.

I think it’s because we all start off burning dirty, albeit powerful, fuel, one that is the pumped out of the ground by passion.

Passion is felt like fire when most of us start our careers. For a few it never disappears, but for the rest of us mortals our work becomes our job and our feelings of passion give way to memories of more energetic times.

When in the heat of passion, it feels like it hasn’t an end.

We could ride it forever, and should the passion disappear, it just means that we no longer love our work and maybe we should change careers, but that won’t happen to me because it only happens to others, and because I have a real passion, and it goes on and on and on and on and on and … oh, I’m a little bored now.

But lust, the fuel that passion provides us, will run out. It always does.

What will keep us moving after the tank is empty is a pursuit. It won’t always be clear if moving towards craftsmanship will mean we’re pushing ourselves towards it, or if it’s pulling us in.

But there’s movement, and with movement comes happiness.

Happiness is so easy to find when what we know is useful, when we work with our minds, when we improve in small ways daily, and most of all, when we help others.

In other words, happiness is often found when we strive for mastery that is useful.

(Huh, is that what craftsmanship means to me? Useful mastery?)

Pursuing craft is still work. It’s harder work than just showing up everyday when you’re anything but passionate about what has to be done.

But working on your craft, having that as an ideal, as a personal value, means that you will get through the tough times.

It means no discouragement will be felt when things are hard. Such moments will be embraced as they offer the opportunity for us to improve our crafts so that we can solve such problems in the future not only easily and quickly, but eventually with grace and style.

The pursuit of craftsmanship will outlast the lusts of passion. Notice those who have a craft and you’ll notice those who have a drive.

If I had to pick between a passion that could fizzle out at any moment, or the persistent drive of a pursuit, I know which I’d prefer.

What about you?

If you were to think of your work as being steps in a pursuit, then where do you think you’ll end up? More importantly, will you be happy to be there when you arrive?