Lessons from Tim Gunn

I admire Tim Gunn so much. I think he’s brave. I think he’s thoughtful. I think he’s present. I think he’s kind. I think he’s a good mentor and compassionate and authentic and dapper. I would like to hang at his place for apps and drinks at the kitchen island and end up staying too long because he was imparting wisdom to me.

He’s known for the phrase “Make It Work”, which has so much appeal.

We love work. We love making things. We love making it work. It’s really the ultimate American statement of encouragement and challenge and grit and character, and it’s what John Wayne did.

On the surface.

Tim Gunn is known for being the mentor on Project Runway and throwing down the “Make It Work” challenge when a designer is lost or stuck making something horrible but time is running too short to completely start over unless you really have it together in the sewing and construction department. I relate, because I went to design school and we did that a lot – your design is really bad until you are up against the clock and you have to pull it together and produce something by the time class starts. Sometimes you get really efficient and focused. Sometimes your ideas come together and you produce something worthwhile. Make It Work is the way forward in those situations – take what you have, no matter how bad or messy and make something out of it.

Really though, sometimes you can’t make it work. And I think that’s where you have to dive a bit into the statement. What isn’t said? What else is in those three short words?

Make It Work For You.

And if it isn’t, then get your hands on something that does. The fabric was a terrible choice? Maybe there is another one available if you look around for it. The design was horrible and unflattering? Conjure up a different design. Your collection isn’t cohesive? Scrap some things and get real with yourself about what does work and else you need to complete the picture.

It wasn’t just an admonition to make the best you could of the bad situation and being stuck with the bad situation, it was evaluating whether the situation was even working for you, and if not, scrapping it in favor of something that did.

It was and is really good advice. Thanks, Tim! You mentored me too.

It’s Not Working

The motivation, the energy, the drive, the focus…it’s not there. What is there is the warm cocoon of my bed in the morning, which is much more appealing than what I feel like I’m facing every morning.

I lost a friend yesterday. I got that news shortly after I left the calmest come to Jesus meeting I’ve ever been part of. Said meeting was really hard, and I’m wondering if I need to start getting a little more loud and angry and a little less accommodating and understanding.

Am I trying to make it work or is it working for me?

I keep getting calls to revise a document that was fine the first time I wrote it. I don’t want to revise it anymore, it was not only fine the first time but good, and if you asked me to write it because you don’t feel that you have the ability, maybe just let me do this? It feels like that’s all work has been the past week, making unnecessary changes to perfectly fine documents I’ve written that do exactly what they need to do. I feel like I’ve wasted hours on this kind of thing lately, and I don’t want my time wasted like that.

Again, am I trying to make work work, or is it working for me?

At home, same thing, less of a question. It’s definitely not working for me. So I’ve been trying to make things work, and they really don’t. So those small changes are starting to lead to big changes, or I stay stuck trying to make it work. Which isn’t working for me.