She Made It Crooked
Each year, Pam and I host a few artists in our Adirondack home who gather to paint for a
weekend near Old Forge, NY. This year we had Jean with us, a budding artist whose job was
making teeth. For years she fashioned crowns, bridges and other replacements. She told me
about the many generations of materials she had used in teeth making. At some point Jean
decided that making ideal new teeth was a bad idea. She looked carefully at faces and mouths
and concluded that no one has perfect teeth. So, she began to make a tooth slightly crooked so
they would fit in with the others.
This prompted a musing. In some parts of life, we are driven to stand out. With teeth we want
to fit in. In parts of life, we seek perfection defined externally. With teeth we want the ideal to
reflect our own imperfect looks if not natures.
OK, so how does this fit with results? How about this. Jim Collins begins his insightful book Good
to Great with this sentence: Good is the enemy of the great. Organizations and people can
settle too low. But what does it mean to surmount complacency and land high? When does
greatness arrive? More importantly, would we want to live in a world of perfection, starting
with teeth that made us less distinguishable?
My next blog entry will reprise a study I did on the Great Community Health Center. Our
assumptions about greatness, I learned, shape what we see.