While watching a country music show recently  a commentator asked “who were your influences for your music”  Of course the artist went into a list of some of the music he listened to, but then mentioned a guitar his grandfather had given him at a young age, and how he remembered playing together with him as a youngster.

How many times in your career as a woodworker have you been asked where you learned your trade.  (I’ve noticed that teachers, of any kind, are always the most intrigued that I received no formal education in the trades)  Where did you learn, or as with the musician – what are your influences.  After all, a lot of what goes into woodworking can be associated with art – as with the art of music.

So what are our influences?  It’s not as if we listened to tape after tape of a given woodworker giving tips and advice.  Probably didn’t think much about it at all, as a youngster.  That doesn’t mean we didn’t have any exposure or influences.  Think about the first time you were exposed to someone doing a wood work project, a carpentry project or any other project that used ones hands and minds to build or fix something.  You may have been so young that it’s hard to pinpoint any exact time or moment.

There is an accepted wisdom that the first 15 years of anyone’s life are the most influential years.  Given that, how influential and important were the experiences that came in those early years.  Likely a parent or grandparent was responsible for those experiences.  For me it was my father.  I remember him remodeling rooms in our house.  Always fixing things; wood, metal, motors, electrical.  You get the picture. I also remember a particular bathroom remodel – my parents hired my uncle to help out.  My uncle was out of work, so I’m sure my Mom pressed dad into hiring him (uncle on my mom’s side).  Well, one area of the project hadn’t been done to my dad’s standards – so the uncle was made to rip it back out and reframe the area to the ‘proper standards’.  I also learned, through observation, that if Dad asked – never give him the time of day in exact minutes, best to round those numbers off.

What are our influences?  Did we have any? Where do we learn, where do we learn to learn?  Is it nature (genetics) or nurture(experience)  I suspect a combination, but I’ve noticed those people that were exposed to doing things, building things, thinking things at an early age are those that successfully build now.

Another memory with my Dad was a conversation he had with my aunt (his sister/divorced).  Her son was having a hard time in school – an overall screw-up.  Dad’s advice was he needed less free time- he needed to be productive (he used other wording of course) -a job.  Her response- he’s young, he gets to be a kid.  My Dad finished the conversation with “What do think is going to happen when he turns 18 – POOF! now I know something!?!”

We need people and opportunities to influence the younger generation, so this week think about being an influence/mentor to someone in your life.  The younger generation are our future builders, future thinkers, future leaders.



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