I think about farming right about this time of the year. My vegetable garden is pushing its way towards the sun and the plants are large enough I can envision the possibility of fresh tomatoes, hope for the melons to grow, cross my fingers herbs will flourish. Nothing in my garden is assured other than uncertainty. I cannot control the weather or the bugs, so farming’s a real crapshoot. The best I can do is provide a nurturing environment and deal with what comes along.
Carpentry is a different discipline. With plans, tools, measurements, and a dose of skill, I can accurately predict what comes out of my efforts. Carpentry is less tolerant of variation. It works well if my planning successfully eliminates variables: the type of materials, the tolerances allowed, the acceptable finishes. As long as everything remains in predictable order, the outcome can be assured.
Farming is the art of building a strong enough foundation to deal with the unknown, while carpentry and its needs for planning and precision work wonders within tighter bounds. Both have their value depending on the situation.
I have always been more of a farmer than a carpenter. I am far more comfortable building a thriving infrastructure that is equipped to deal with change. Others I know are the opposite. They require structure, clearly defined boundaries, planning, and predictable outcomes.
If you’re having surgery you probably want a carpenter mentality to work on you. If your goal is to innovate, you would be better off with a farmer.
If you’re building a high-performance audio system from scratch and have the luxury of designing every aspect from the ground up, including the room, you would likely be best served by the carpenter’s approach. But if you’re like the majority of us, building one in an existing space with a collection of gear cobbled together over a lifetime, you’d likely be better off as a farmer comfortable with unpredictability.
Which are you? Farmer or carpenter?