The Future Beneficiaries of Your Labors


We visited the Uffizi in Florence, Italy and were astounded by the amazing works of art. As someone who loves letters I found myself taking photos of words within some of the major pieces. What hit me each time was that instead of just doing something simple to represent the idea, these masters when all out, full throttle and gave everything they had to their work.

In this example the painter used gold leaf and embossed lettering to enhance the angelic nature of the Angel’s halo. To first he would have painted the letters, then built up the paint or added another substance – wood, metal, cloth – to form the letters, to then add the gold leaf, then buff and smooth it all out to get this effect. Then he may have hammered to add the dots surrounding the halo. All that work to present his idea in the best light possible.

I stood in front of this one for a long time. I thought of the millions of people across the centuries that have seen this work, enjoyed it’s beauty, and were still able to be astounded by the colors and craftsmanship. The work has stood the test of time and is still bringing people to silence when they stand in front of it. My guess is that the artist could never have imagined people taking pictures of his work (no flashes of course) with their mobile phone, or videotaping the work to share later. That these people would have flown across the sky in metal tubes and used plastic cards to pay for it all. That people from every continent and nation, that spoke languages of all tongues would see his work, long after he stopped breathing. The days, weeks, months in his studio could never have prepared him for what his work has inspired in sooooo many people.

And all this reminds me that we have no idea when we are creating – spreadsheets, presentations, art, furniture, a meal or even making up the guest room bed – the value or meaning it will bring to the people receiving the effort of our hard work. We can’t think that big or that long term. We can’t even imagine how what we are doing today will impact people well into the future. So do the hard work, fell the sore muscles, go to bed exhausted knowing that someone in the future will be the beneficiary of your labors. Let these thoughts keep you going when you think your are drained and done. Put forth your best effort no matter who or when it will be received. You will never know that what you do today may inspire someone you’ve never met to move forward into greatness.

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