Help me help other architects! This blog is an excerpt from the first draft of my book: Breaking the Box: Explode out of Architecture School to a Successful Career as an Architect. You can help by leaving a critique in the comment section below. And if you are just starting I suggest you check out the table of contents for an easy road map. Thx you rock! -Steve
“Luck is What Happens When Preparation Meets Opportunity.” –Seneca
The quote from Seneca is one of my favorites. You should continually be building your skill set and always be looking for the next opportunity. Sometimes these opportunities are as clear as day and other times they are hidden.
Your growth requires patience and persistence, and when the timing is right, you must seize the moment.
How can an architect seize the moment?
A few months ago, one of my colleagues Christine stopped me in the hall and said, “Steve, this year my goal is to work on at least one hotel and a restaurant. You need to make that happen!” Christine is one of our new interior designers and she has a passion for hospitality design. The funny thing is that I was working on three different boutique hotels at the time, and I needed help.
The next week we were collaborating on all three hotels. Be careful what you ask for Christine!
This was a win-win. I needed some help on the projects and Christine got to work on a passion. All she had to do was ask. Before that I did not know she had an interest in hotels. Shame on me for not knowing.
Don’t assume that everyone knows your intentions and interests. Just ask.
Remember in Chapter 8 when I told the story of the Bojangles restaurant? I was asked to help on a fast food restaurant and I scoffed at the idea. I’m too good for that I thought.
In hindsight, I was a total bonehead and I missed an awesome opportunity. Most important, I was not a team player. When you say no, you not only miss an opportunity but may miss the next one.
Go the Extra Mile
When I began my career, I was eager to unleash my design talents on the world. I was convinced that I was going to be a design architect, however there was one problem: I was a total newbie. Newbies don’t get the interesting work and they certainly aren’t doing much design. I would have to first pay my dues before earning my dream role.
I developed a strategy. Whenever I received any little design task, I took it very seriously. Often I would work on these assignments on my own time after work. I would show up the next day with multiple design options that I had thoroughly vetted. It did not take long before my superiors noticed that I had passion for design and a ‘hint’ of talent. I went the extra mile and now I am in a role where I lead design efforts on very significant projects.
Fill the Voids
Just the other days one of my colleagues mentioned that we had some valuable software tools that were underutilized. He was frustrated that our firm was overlooking these tools because they would add a lot of value to our service.
I recommended that he learn the software, analyze the benefits and train others. When you see something that your firm is missing, that is a tremendous opportunity for you to become a champion. Identify the voids and fill them!
Do the Research
We now have dedicated virtual reality rooms in all eight of our offices. Virtual reality is an amazing technology that is already elevating our practice. This vision came from one of our 330 employees named Hal. Hal is an accomplished architect who has a passion for the technology side of practice. Hal took it upon himself to learn the nuts and bolts of virtual reality and convinced the senior leadership to invest in the technology.
Nobody asked Hal to do this. He saw an opportunity and put in the research and now we have an incredible tool. And now Hal looks like a genius. And he is!
Deadlines are stressful man! Architects have high expectations and often crank to the last second. These types of challenging situations are excellent opportunities for growth. Leaders emerge during deadlines and the C players fade.
If you think of all of the team deadlines you have taken part in, I bet there were people that really shined during those times. Those people are the leaders.
Look for The Silver Lining
Some times the best opportunities are disguised under a shroud of unpleasantness. Architecture is a challenging career and you are likely to encounter long hours, challenging projects, unappreciative clients and difficult contractors to name a few. In these moments you may find yourself in the pits.
Hang in there! Each one of these situations is an opportunity for growth and leadership. I guess I am a glass half full guy but that is what you need to be if you want to excel at architecture. Always be looking for that silver lining.
Make your Luck
I believe there are two different types of people in this world:
People that wait for luck.
People that make their luck.
I am very impatient so the idea of waiting does not work for me. If you have survived architecture school then you are definitely a maker of luck.
Go the Extra Mile
Fill the Voids
Do the Research
Look for the Silver Lining
And Seize the Moment!
I would love to hear your stories on seizing the moment. It will help me and I may even put it in the book. Also, if you'd like to stay up-to-date on this book please sign up for the Breaking the Box email list at the bottom of this post. I appreciate your time and wish you the best of luck.
Flip the page to Chapter 19: Steer Your Ship
Another chapter in the books! (Pun intended)
Chapter 18 by the Numbers
· 893 words
· 3.6 – Translates into approximately 3.6 pages in book form.
· 1 – Blog Posts
· 3 – Hours to Write and Post on Blog
· 3 – Stretched over 3 calendar days.
· 1.2 – Average book pages written per day.
The Book by the Numbers
· 33,411 – Total Words
· 134 – Total Pages
· 48 – Total Blog Posts
· 220 – Goal for final page count.
· 108– Days Since Starting
· 1.24 – Average book pages written per day.
· 73 – Estimated days to completion of first draft. (220-134) / 1.24) = 69
· 15– Chapters down.
· 13 – Chapters to go.
· 0 – New subscribers to the Breaking the Box Email Newsletter
· 47 – Total subscribers to the Breaking the Box Email Newsletter