The Craftsmanpreneur
Brennan Letkeman
71

Find your craft and let it kill you

You should do what you love. That’s what’s most important. — Akira Nakai

This story buzzed in this morning on my phone. My finger hovered above the notification, ready to swipe it away to oblivion.

But something made me stop. Maybe it was the author’s name I didn’t recognise. Maybe the title. I’m glad I didn’t.

The piece is three minutes long. The video is four minutes. If you want maximum impact, watch the video and get to know Akira Nakai.

In a nutshell, this guy builds custom cars for his clients. He’s built a following, one motorhead at a time.

The sort of person your parents warned you about
If you saw this guy in the street, you might think that he’d let himself go.

Unshaven, hair a wild mess… he doesn’t seem like the sort of person you would want to bring home to your parents (unless they were car enthusiasts).

But watch the way he talks about Porsches and the attention to detail he puts into each screw, or the way he pauses before he starts driving in a car he’s just built, just to check that it feels right, and you see someone who is so deep into his work that he’s not married to it — he’s a part of it.

He will literally be building cars until the day he dies.


Yesterday, I put in a late submission for World Poetry Day on Medium. I thought to myself:

Ah, it’s been a while. Let’s have a bit of fun.

Little did I know how much fun I would have. As I said in a note at the end of the poem:

It felt so good writing that. I haven’t written a poem in ages. Maybe even 10 years. I haven’t written for enjoyment for about the same time. I should get back into it.

As I wrote, I could feel synapses in my brain snapping awake after years of slumber, electricity throbbing through the dendrites as signals leaped gleefully across chasms that hadn’t seen light for so long.

At this point, the poem has only been read once and recommended once. I recommended it.

But you know what? I felt so good writing that, it didn’t matter.

I think we all get so caught up, trying to build something, get more followers, readers, money or attention and that ultimately we drive ourselves to hate what we used to love and who we become as a result.

I’m not going to lie: I want to become a person of influence and impact millions with my ideas and words. But it all seems rather pointless if you lose yourself in the process.

After all, if you’re not there to witness your success, did it even happen?


I don’t want to beat a dead horse but I thought I would give my two cents worth about doing what you love vs. working for the boss.

I think it’s as good a time as ever to do what you love.

I believe that with some luck, you might turn it into something lucrative that can propel you into a place where you don’t have to worry about the cost of lunch ever again.

Here’s why:

1. we are in a sharing world. Self-expression has become a priority. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Medium… the world is primed to make things famous.
2. attention spans have shortened. We reserve our attention for things that are truly unique and impact our lives in a profound way.
3. skepticism has increased in lockstep. We aren’t as naive. We’re more distrusting.

However, people still need something to believe in. Our beliefs shape our identity. We’re desperately searching to connect on a deeper level.

This is where the opportunity for you lies.

If you throw yourself into the abyss and let your work consume you, you can create a bond with certain people who have been waiting their entire lives for what you’re about to create.

Once your people see what you can do, they will wonder where you have been their entire life.

I know this is hard to believe. You can choose to ignore it. I’m just going to leave you with this story my wife shared with me about someone who did exactly what I said.

Meet Nathan Sawaya:

He is a self-proclaimed “Brick Artist” using Lego to create pieces of art. In 2004, he made the bold move of quitting his career as a corporate lawyer in New York to pursue his passion of sculpting using Lego.

He had his first solo exhibition in 2007 and since then has toured the world to cities like Zurich, Paris, Johannesburg, Amsterdam and Shanghai to show people his work.

While he was still working as a lawyer, he would come home and sculpt to unwind, putting his creations up on his website. Soon, he started doing commissions.

Fast forward to today and he’s still doing them. He created this for Tony Hawk just last week:

https://www.facebook.com/TonyHawk/

He’s got a studio in LA and in New York. There are about 2,500,000 lego pieces at his disposal for him to create with. He’s following his passion and “living the dream”.

It’s been 12 years since he made the decision to go out on his own. A LOT changes in that time.

Could you imagine if he hadn’t made the leap? If he allowed himself to stay comfortable?

He might have made partner at his law firm. His six-figure income might now be a seven-figure income.

He might have had a coronary artery bypass. He might have fallen into depression.

We don’t know.

All we know is that he’s happier than any average person.

In an interview with NewYork.com, this is what Nathan had to say for kids wanting to pursue a creative career:

Be a bit realistic. I want you to follow your passion. If your passion is to be a rock star, that’s awesome. But before you quit that day job, make sure you’ve taken a guitar lesson. Don’t just up and quit. You have to prepare for this. You have to practice and make sure you have the skills before you take that leap of faith.

Hardly groundbreaking, guru advice. But really, advice that you would expect to hear from an ex-lawyer.

So find your craft and let it kill you… slowly. Make sure it’s truly what makes your soul sing. Find out what huge problems you can solve with your craft that only you can solve in your own special way.

Most importantly, enjoy yourself. That’s when you’ll do your best work.


Thanks for reading! I write for people in their 20’s who, like me, find adulting needlessly painful. If you could ❤ this article and share it with a fellow turd muffin who finds it hard to adult, I’ll think the world of you. Comment and I’ll write back within 24 hours… if I’m not on Netflix.

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