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Artisan or Craftsman

Are you an artisan or a craftsman? Is there a difference? Most dictionaries use one to describe the other. Louis Nizer said, "A man who works with his hands is a laborer; a man who works with his hands and his brain is a craftsman; but a man who works with his hands and his brain and his heart is an artist" while the French novelist Emile Zola wrote, "There are two men inside the artist, the poet and the craftsman. One is born a poet. One becomes a craftsman."

What separates a craftsman from everyone else? It's their painstaking attention to detail that is evident in the quality of their work. Anyone can drive a nail with a hammer, but a craftsman can make that nail become a part of a beautiful, well made home. Anyone can cut a piece of wood with a saw, but a craftsman can make that wood into a beautiful piece of furniture. Anyone can melt glass with enough heat, but a craftsman can turn that molten blob of heated glass into an object of art.

Craftsmen use the instruments of their trade to the fullest, striving to hone their skills to get even better at their craft. They take pride in their work and toil to make each piece better than the previous one. A minor blemish on their finished work stands out like a major flaw in their minds. They are always looking for ways to improve the outcome of their efforts.

What about you? Are you a dabbler or a craftsman? Are you satisfied to simply make it home after your ride or are you working to be the best that you can be every time you head out on your beloved motorcycle? What are you doing to sharpen your riding skills and refine them into a craft? Craftsmen take their labors seriously studying every aspect of it with an eye towards achieving perfection in what they do.

Craftsmen are never content with what they know and can do. They never feel like they know it all or even that they know enough. They become lifelong students of their work. What are you doing to learn more about your chosen avocation? Is your passion for motorcycling strong enough to drive you to keep strengthening you mental and physical skills?

Do you seek opportunities to learn more about riding so you can continue to get better? Do you participate in formal training programs to improve your braking and cornering prowess? What new ideas have you gained by reading motorcycling books or magazines? Do you take the time to purposefully practice your cornering, braking and swerving skills in a controlled environment like a parking lot? When's the last time you worked on the low speed control of your motorcycle?

According to master bread maker Peter Reinhart, "A bread baker, like any true artisan or craftsman, must have the power to control outcomes. Mastery comes with practice." Become a riding craftsman so you can control your outcomes on the road. Your life could depend on it.

Ride Smart! Ride Safe!