Bikash Kalita : Your Life, Your Choice

The process to work better and create something meaningful

What do you do when you want to work better and want to create something meaningful? How do you do this? Is there a process or method or technique for doing your work better and create something meaningful at the end of it? There may be a process which will help you to do everything better and also work meaningfully creating meaningful works.

Before we go into what are the two things that you can do to work better and do meaningful work, let’s know about tureen that will help you to know the process better.


The Helsinki Bus Station Theory

It was in June 2004. Arno Rafael Minkkinen was delivering the commencement speech at the New England School of Photography. That day he shared a very interesting theory which is known as The Helsinki Bus Station Theory.

Arno Rafael Minkkinen was born in Helsinki, Finland, where the city had a large bus station and Minkkinen used this bus station to describe his theory. This theory is about the difference between success and failure and what we can do about it.

So, let’s find out what the theory is.

The Helsinki Bus Station Theory

“Some two-dozen platforms are laid out in a square at the heart of the city,” Minkkinen said. “At the head of each platform is a sign posting the numbers of the buses that leave from that particular platform. The bus numbers might read as follows: 21, 71, 58, 33, and 19. Each bus takes the same route out of the city for at least a kilometer, stopping at bus stop intervals along the way.”

He continued, “Now let’s say, again metaphorically speaking, that each bus stop represents one year in the life of a photographer. Meaning the third bus stop would represent three years of photographic activity. Ok, so you have been working for three years making platinum studies of nudes. Call it bus #21.”

“You take those three years of work to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and the curator asks if you are familiar with the nudes of Irving Penn. His bus, 71, was on the same line. Or you take them to a gallery in Paris and are reminded to check out Bill Brandt, bus 58, and so on. Shocked, you realize that what you have been doing for three years others have already done.”

“So you hop off the bus, grab a cab—because life is short—and head straight back to the bus station looking for another platform.”

“This time,” he said, “you are going to make 8×10 view camera color snapshots of people lying on the beach from a cherry picker crane. You spend three years at it and three grand and produce a series of works that elicit the same comment. Haven’t you seen the work of Richard Misrach? Or, if they are steamy black and white 8x10s of palm trees swaying off a beachfront, haven’t you seen the work of Sally Mann?”

“So once again, you get off the bus, grab the cab, race back and find a new platform. This goes on all your creative life, always showing new work, always being compared to others.”

What to do?

What can we do? What you could do? What will make all the difference between success and failure?

According to Minkkinen, it’s simple. Even though it seems so difficult for us, to him it seems simple. He advises, “It’s simple,” he said. “Stay on the bus. Stay on the f*cking bus. Because if you do, in time, you will begin to see a difference.”

“The buses that move out of Helsinki stay on the same line, but only for a while—maybe a kilometer or two. Then they begin to separate, each number heading off to its own unique destination. Bus 33 suddenly goes north. Bus 19 southwest. For a time maybe 21 and 71 dovetails one another, but soon they split off as well. Irving Penn is headed elsewhere.”

“It’s the separation that makes all the difference,” Minkkinen said. “And once you start to see that difference in your work from the work you so admire—that’s why you chose that platform after all—it’s time to look for your breakthrough. Suddenly your work starts to get noticed. Now you are working more on your own, making more of the difference between your work and what influenced it. Your vision takes off. And as the years mount up and your work begins to pile up, it won’t be long before the critics become very intrigued, not just by what separates your work from a Sally Mann or a Ralph Gibson, but by what you did when you first got started!”

“You regain the whole bus route in fact. The vintage prints made twenty years ago are suddenly re-evaluated and, for what it is worth, start selling at a premium. At the end of the line—where the bus comes to rest and the driver can get out for a smoke or, better yet, a cup of coffee—that’s when the work is done. It could be the end of your career as an artist or the end of your life for that matter, but your total output is now all there before you, the early (so-called) imitations, the breakthroughs, the peaks and valleys, the closing masterpieces, all with the stamp of your unique vision.”

“Why? Because you stayed on the bus.”

If you are consistent with your efforts, they will help you to create meaningful work. You need to stay on the bus, you need to keep working on your art, your skill, your “game.”

Only consistency?

Even though I tend to say “yes” to this question, but that’ll be incorrect.

Only consistency cannot help you to work better to do meaningful work and create something meaningful. Consistency is required but it’s not the ONLY thing that will help you to get what you want.

Consistency is good but not all consistency will help you to become better or successful. See these cases-

When you want to do something meaningful and create meaningful work and results, you will need to have more than only consistency. You not only have to do things but you will need to keep doing something until you become better in that. So, instead of doing 1000 things one time each, you need to do just one thing 1000 times.


Doing something repeatedly

Do it 100, 200 or 1000 times- do not diversify the things that you are doing, but focus on one thing.

When you repeatedly to something, it will help you to become better in that thing. It means is if you keep working on just one thing for 100, 200 or 1000 times, it will help you to do it with wonderful quality. You will automatically reach the stage of unconscious competence and you’ll be able to do it easily superb quality.

Deliberately practicing something

Instead of simply doing something, you need to deliberately practice doing something and then only will help you to become better in that.

To do something with wonderful quality, you will need to practice it deliberately. Only then it will be possible for you to do something meaningful that you want to do. Only deliberate practice will help you to become better over time. Without deliberate practice, doing something 100, 200 or 1000 times is not possible for anyone. Deliberate practice will let you focus on the important aspects and skills necessary to master that task, skill and work to produce something extraordinary that will stay as your legacy.

Understand this process and the different steps involved in it, follow it and that will help you to create meaningful work by doing your work better. When you create meaningful work it not only helps us to leave behind a legacy but it also helps us to live a better life. This process is simple and it is possible to follow it without making too many changes in your life. Let’s do something meaningful starting today and keep doing it till the end of this life.

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