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BNH Book Review: A Craftman's Legacy

Published Friday Oct 16, 2020

Author Terri Schlichenmeyer of The Bookworm Sez

“A Craftsman’s Legacy”
by Eric Gorges
2019/Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
$24.95/256 pages

As someone who builds motorcycles, Eric Gorges is a craftsman but he didn’t get there easily. He started his career at the bottom rung of Xerox and worked his way up until panic attacks kept him from leaving his house. After a therapist pointed out it was time for a change, Gorges realized how much better he felt when he was in “the zone” building in his garage.

People who make a living with their crafts understand that it’s physically impossible to attain perfection but they tend to hold “on to an inkling of hope.”

From observing a master penman and calligrapher, Gorges saw that “doing the single task well” is perhaps better than being a jack-of-all-trades. From his father, he learned that making a mistake led to “something new to discover.”

A potter showed Gorges that focus comes when you relax, slow down and stop paying attention. Through woodwork, he learned that “visualizing the future” is imperative. Gorges saw sacrifice in action from the family of an engraver. An alpaca owner and yarn spinner taught him there is peace in any process, once you find your cadence. And he learned from each of his subjects that you must “respect the customers, respect the work.”

While it might, at first, seem like “A Craftsman’s Legacy” is an odd choice for a business book, know that it deserves a second, harder look.

Each of Gorges’ profiled craftsmen (and women) make money from what they do. Gorges tells their stories as he writes of his attempts at each of the crafts described. He also tells why he chose to include these talented people here. Their journeys toward making a living from their handiwork provide hidden lessons that apply to any aspect of business.

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