Confronted with the magnificent artwork inherent in classic architecture, whether Indian, Chinese, Gothic or Renaissance, I recently found myself contemplating the back-ache Michelangelo must have earned whilst painting the magnificent Sistine Chapel. Even though it took four years, the more-than-1000 m2 section he completed is still widely held to be his crowning achievement in painting.
No matter how lovely it is, however, the sad reality remains that a ceiling is designed to be an end – a limit – and not to encourage growth. It resists further advancement and development, other than maintenance of the status quo. Perhaps this is why Michelangelo is known to have resented the commission, believing his work would only serve the Pope’s needs. I wonder if we, too, are involved with our life’s most memorable work, yet without love or passion, due to being flat-out on our back, staring at a ceiling?
I model my future on audio equipment, as a musician and creative person. Audio equipment is built with headroom in mind, that is, the difference between the current output and the maximum output possible. An amplifier is often linked to more powerful speakers than it needs, to create breathing space, and the option of expansion, as appropriate, without internal damage. Unlike a teen with an i-pod, trying to get his neighbours to enjoy his music from a 6-watt speaker system, audiophiles choose clarity of sound as the standard, and this is best engineered with matched systems.
If only most careers and organisations were built with headroom in mind, matching output to stress-free clear parameters, and optimising systems to bring out the best in their (human) resources. Containment is not ultimately clever. Growth is.