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Friday, December 19, 2008

Jorn Utzon...

...Rule Breaker, Perfectionist & Amazing Visionary !!!
by David Bookout

Utzon is the architectural genius behind the spectacularly beautiful and renowned Sydney Opera House in Sydney, Australia. But, until earlier this week, I'd never heard of him. I'd certainly heard of, and seen pictures of the opera house. So, I was a little surprised, when I Googled him using quotation marks to do a specific use search, and found a little over half a million uses of his name. The first five pages of links were predominately related to the fact that he recently passed away at 90. The more I read, the more fascinated I became, and the more I wanted to share what I think were some key aspects of his Personal Brand.

Breaking Existing Standards
Utzon was a rule breaker, a style that doesn't work for everyone, and one could argue didn't work for him. Despite the exquisite beauty of the Sydney Opera House there were precious few other commissions awarded Utzon causing him to remark at one point "if you like an architect's work, you give him something to build". The opera house project itself a fluke, as he had failed to comply with several of the submittal rules, which resulted in his entry originally being rejected. No cost estimates were provided out of uncertainty as to whether the building could even be built.

Today, from a Personal Brand perspective, I think it very important to understand; where to work to existing standards, where to push the boundaries of existing standards, and where to work to create entirely new, more effective standards.

Being A Perfectionist
When contrasted with his quest for total control, and the need for others to follow his rules, the difficulty others had in building the design, and in working with Utzon himself played into his departure from the project, and Australia in 1966. He never even returned for the ribbon cutting and grand opening ceremony in 1973. Upon final completion the project was 10 years late and grossly ( in excess of 1,000% ) over budget. But, to me, Utzon's quest for perfectionism was a personal ethic that has led to amazing advances in design and construction, which in turn has provided the opportunity for millions to learn new things, and forever change our world. The Sydney Harbor skyline is just one, small aspect.

Today, from a Personal Brand perspective, I wonder if perfectionism might be a welcome and refreshing change ? Let's bring back some perfectionism and pride in doing things well the first time around !! However, in the process, let's remember that; it is important to hold others to the same standards that we hold ourselves to, and equally important to creatively work together in areas where we don't have collective understanding.

Having Vision
The ability to see radically new and beautiful building designs emerge from; billowing clouds, ship's sails and salt crystals poured onto a table top was certainly Jorn Utzon's gift. The gift of amazing vision. But, we all have a gift, and many find it difficult, as Utzon did, to capitalize on that gift. Part of this may be that as adults we stop playing, we stop imagining, and we stop visualizing things as we did as children. Another part may be our need for instant gratification.

Today, from a Personal Brand perspective, it is important to reconnect with our ability to envision new things and harvest the energy that provides us to not only persevere, but to design and create anew.

© Copyright 2008 - Effetti, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide.

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The article "Jorn Utzon...", the subtitle "...Rule Breaker, Perfectionist & Amazing Visionary !!!" and contents herein, unless otherwise specified in writing - by Effetti, Inc. are ALSO licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
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The photo of Jorn Utzon may be © Copyright to the estate of Jorn Utzon, and / or Reuters. Image obtained @ Economist.com.


Anonymous said...

Oh, David, you hit me where it hurts. Sometime ago, for whatever reason, I stopped playing, imagining, and dreaming. I even took a class on visualizing and failed it miserably. I would love to reconnect with those abilities again. How does one do that once they are lost? Tell us, as I am sure that there are many out there just like me.

I also vehemently agree with you that perfectionism and pride are important – extremely important. We as a people need to strive for those attributes as well as character, integrity and honesty. We have become a people too content in accepting the low road – in our dress, habits, work ethics and values, which was once of great importance to our parents and grandparents. However, I must confess that I have not always been considered for Miss Congeniality in holding others to the same standards that I believe in.

I love your articles. They tickle my brain and make me think. Keep up the good work.


Effetti said...

Dear Gaylene,

Thank YOU for your candid comments, and very kind acknowledgments !!

May I offer the following for your consideration?

As children, for the most part, we are free and actually encouraged to do all those things. But, as adults, we begin to abandon our exercise time for the "mental muscles"; play, imagination and dreaming. Those mental muscles need exercise just like our physical muscles.

To build, or rebuild those mental muscles, we first need to schedule some time to give them a good workout. Then, when we are in that scheduled time, we can begin to practice choosing to relax, in effect suspending our opposing mental muscles; seriousness, rationalism, and pragmatism. The purpose is to establish a space in which we have no "bad", or "wrong" thoughts. A free thinking space where we can literally let our mind wander.

In this space, some combination of the following exercises might be helpful:

1) Practice laughing by reading a comic book, or watching a funny movie. If need be, start by practicing to force yourself to smile and laugh.

2) "Be" with kids, or grandkids in a way that embraces their thinking and what they see.

3) Observe cloud formations in a way that allows you to "see" common shapes and objects among them.

4) Extend the time horizon of your thinking into the future 1, 3, or 5 years and note some of the accomplishments you would have realized at those time intervals. These can even be pragmatic goals, from which you can begin to think about essential sub-accomplishments.

Hope that helps !

Sincerely with the best regards,

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