The Sculptor

You must have heard the famous story of a well-respected sculptor who made idols. If not, here it goes:

A man once visited a temple under construction where he saw a sculptor making an idol. Suddenly he noticed a similar idol lying nearby.

Surprised, he asked the sculptor, “Do you need two statues of the same idol?”

“Well,” said the sculptor without looking up, “We need only one, but the first one got damaged at the last stage.”

The gentleman examined the idol and found no apparent damage. “Where is the damage?” he asked. “There is a scratch on the nose of the idol.” said the sculptor, still busy with his work.

“Where are you going to install the idol?” The sculptor replied that it would be installed on a pillar twenty feet high. ”If the idol is that far, who is going to know that there is a scratch on the nose?” the gentleman asked.

The sculptor stopped his work, looked up at the gentleman, smiled and said, “I will know it.”

Decades ago, when I was in my early twenties, I had not heard this story.  But I, for some reason, ended up re-writing the source code of my Accounting Software for 4 times to make it more structured and robust. 

Each time, the earlier source code used to work but I was not satisfied with the code structure and quality.

All four of those projects were service projects that used my accounting software as a module.

I did not have much knowledge about any project management then. I did not understand that rewriting the software was ‘out of scope’.

Maybe this was the reason, I was able to run a small yet profitable IT Consulting business even though my awareness about the business was not much.  

I only had a relentless desire to make my accounting software better. It resulted in 100+ installations of my accounting software.

This was the pre-app era where 100 installations were a creditable number. 

So when I heard the story of the sculptor and the idol, it resonated with me well.

The desire to excel at what you do, regardless of what activity you are involved in, is exclusive of the fact whether someone else appreciates you or not. Excellence is a drive from inside, not outside.