steve duross - craftsman. artisan. entrepreneur. musings on running and growing a small business


on any given day, it is easy to get lost in the details. informative moments pass at the speed of light, perspectives shift; everything flows from one day to the next until we find ourselves far from where we began. as ideas blossom they die and then resurrect themselves again enfolded into new ideals. promising careers begin and end and become new again, forged in the fire of dissolution and disappointment. though the beginning of any idea feels promising, in the reckoning, little appears as it once was. no one sets out for their life to become a grind to pay rent, pay loans, to keep up and be relevant. easily forgotten is the intention many of us held to be exceptional. once that goal becomes unfocused, it can be confounding, frustrating, and even maddening. when we fix our ideals on the things we intend to exude, create, design, produce or craft, we have a solid goal that can be set. something we can make truly exceptional. quite often however, one's attitude toward tasks, co-workers and/or management can diminish exceptionalism to the point where it becomes meaningless. then attitude is everything.

it has been said that there is nothing new under the sun. based solely on my own experience i'd have to agree that the statement is about 98% true. fifty-four revolutions around the sun teaches a person that what goes around, comes around with very few exceptions. something i did not care to grasp at twenty-four revolutions. back then i was the king of the world, the master of my fate. i could pick up and go to the next adventure with barely a moment's notice. i was a person who got by by the skin of his teeth. yet whatever i attempted was always focused on the goal of being the best. though attaining the goal was not always possible, it was well worth the reach exceeding the grasp. this history, my old life, profoundly informs my current life as an owner/manager. it is easier for me to be forgiving of the minor, petty annoyances.. but where exceptionalism is concerned? i have no mercy.

my heart sings on the side of a rocky cliff 300 meters off the ground. in that moment i grasp. for the place my hand or foot will take hold. for my momentary point of view. for my focus, my goal, my need for survival and my need to thrive. i grasp. standing behind the chair cutting hair, creating an educational plan, building marketing projects, fulfilling customer service, formulating, it is all like climbing rock. grasping. going toward my goal. it is exceptionally thrilling as each moment means change. adaptation. growth. though i often drive the people around me to distraction with my need to fine tune, this is how our success, thus far, has been possible. for those who cannot grasp with me, who cannot adapt to the prevailing culture, who cannot reach for the exceptional with me will eventually be moved on. anything less is just dysfunctional.

i have loved very few people in my life. truly. most of the family i have. the family i have built. a few true friends are all i desire. i have selfishly poured my heart and soul into myself and my life. into my childish, childhood dreams and for the most part, i do as i please. because i have chosen my core team wisely, together we do the job exceptionally. show the client a pleasant experience. be sure that the formulations exceed expectations. focus less on the margins and keep the price point attainable. structure the whole thing so that there is something for everyone (some say we are pricy, i say whatever). i do not want, cannot find nor will i retain exceptional people unless they are paid exceptionally. so thanks to the prevailing tax structures, i will never ever be rich. but my life will be filled with wonderful people and exceptional moments. otherwise i'd chuck the lot and move on.

though most of my peers disparage the up-coming generation, i don't feel any disappointment toward millennials. i imagine that they are our best and brightest hope of fixing the miasma my boomer generation has created. but in some ways, i feel as though millennials are not so different from me. for them, just one idea will never do. they want it all. and so they should. not all are willing to grasp though. some, like in every generation, will settle fast (or worse) look to others to fix their mess. we all create messes but most of us clean them up. and we can choose not to fix the mess others make. but in the end my focus is on those who can make the most difference, who refuse to accept the status quo, who will not allow themselves or their surroundings to be defined by the negative voices.. this too is where my heart sings.

i see the exceptional every day, and it is worth putting my back into raising up opportunity for these individuals. understanding all of what they desire isn't required. it is enough that they grasp their own sense of worth, the opportunity they are being given, and that they continue to reach for lives that are exceptional. not for me mind you, but for themselves. fostering these values is reason enough for me to continue grasping, and to keep reaching for the next exceptional possibility. and just maybe they will change the world