During a car-ride conversation with my husband yesterday, we challenged each other to remember the meaning of a series of letters which had been quite significant in our work when we were both employed by The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company over twenty years ago: M-R-B-I-V.
We both started our recall with a vivid picture in mind, for in our Hawai‘i corner of the RCHC world at the time, M-R-B-I-V had become this sketch-type drawing of this odd little man too, purposely black and white: He was “Mr. Biv” and a total quality management acronym created for us when The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company applied in earnest for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award for the first time. And boy, was he sketchy, for he personified what nobody wanted to find in their work, and in their work places: Mistakes, Rework, Breakdowns, Inefficiencies, and Variation.
A funny aside: While the other letters were easy to recall, with a short hangup on Inefficiencies as Inconsistencies, the ‘B’ was the one we struggled to remember — it became our breakdown as we both laughed at the memory of a particular manager we’d all then called Barry Biv. You can imagine why… it was sorta like this: Give Managers Their Chance to Excel. Barry wasn’t a very good juggler.
If you fail to keep him away, Mr. Biv doesn’t need much to move in, gain his foothold, and stay.
Mr. Biv came to mind for us after all these years because we are embroiled in a project riddled with more than its plausible share of mistakes, rework, breakdowns, inefficiencies and variation. It’s a project we were loathe to take on, a project where Mr. Biv and all his relatives have been squatting for far too long. We had procrastinated about getting as involved as we are now — procrastinating for years.
I keep telling myself it was meant to be. I’m in it for the deep and undeniable passion I have connected to the end result we desire, but working my way toward that still-elusive end has been frustrating and stressful in turns. There is no more procrastination as legal deadlines assert themselves, and dealing with this project is time-consuming and quite expensive. Thus I’m at a juncture where I’d decided: If I’m foiled at this turn, I’m out. Enough is enough.
Or so I thought.
It’s the kind of project where you constantly feel you take two steps back to make one step forward. But oh, those steps forward! Each one reveals more than the one before. The path widens, the light gets brighter, and you realize: Yes, I took those two, sometimes three steps backward, but this step forward is so much bigger than all of them combined; it’s huge!
That’s because the steps forward, no matter how small they’ll seem at first, are steps taken with the feelings of supreme victory in personal accomplishment. Personal, hands on, all-on-me accomplishment, where the light has brightened because it is finally coming from you!
For example, as one of those steps I authored a legal brief for the first time, a document referred to as Proposed Findings, Facts, and Conclusions of Law. They’re usually written by lawyers, by merit of expertise I certainly do not have: “You write the opinion [for judge and/or jury deliberation]. Stick to the facts in the record, recite the applicable law, analyze the factors, and rule in your client’s favor.” If you work hard to gain the elemental degree of expertise you will in fact need, and you write it well, there is a much greater chance that the final decision at hand will go in your favor, at least more than it otherwise would.
I have learned SO much in that process of authorship and gaining of ‘elemental expertise.’ So very much about the subject at hand, and surprisingly, about me and what I truly want to achieve. It’s been an episode of experiencing this quote first hand:
“The advice I like to give young artists, or really anybody who’ll listen to me, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you. If you’re sitting around trying to dream up a great art idea, you can sit there a long time before anything happens. But if you just get to work, something will occur to you and something else will occur to you and something else that you reject will push you in another direction. Inspiration is absolutely unnecessary and somehow deceptive. You feel like you need this great idea before you can get down to work, and I find that’s almost never the case.”
— Chuck Close
— Charles Thomas “Chuck” Close is an American painter and photographer who achieved fame as a photorealist through his massive-scale portraits.
So I write this particular posting to encourage you: Thrill to the work.
Find that beauty and that art and that accomplishment of self-reveal in your work, whatever your work might be. Dig into it, loosen whatever has compacted and gotten stagnant or stuck, and take stuff apart so it can be reexamined again. Take it one very good step at a time, and do good work. Find your joy in it. Take nothing for granted as you go treasure-hunting: The parts you can potentially like and enjoy may have been hidden from view.
Like me, you will probably discover that Mr. Biv can make several unwanted appearances, but getting rid of him can be supremely satisfying work, and you’ll widen your own path with bigger steps forward, especially when you loosen that hold Mr. Biv might have with value-mapping: Ethos: Be true to your Values.
My project continues, as does the work within it.
But that work? Oh, how it sustains me when I allow it to become part and parcel of my HO‘OHANA.
As Close said, “All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself.” and indeed, “Things [will] occur to you.”
HO‘OHANA requires a personal approach. Work with passion, with purpose and intention, and with full joy while realizing your potential for growth and creativity. When you Ho‘ohana you are actively engaged in creating your future; you work on purpose, and make things happen. You create your best possible life and you forge your own destiny, for you have connected your wide-awake intentions to the work you have chosen to do, or to learn more about.