The Lesson of the Forks

Golden Rule #11: Approach Big Projects With a Big Fork. Save the Small Fork for Later.

In our exhibit design partnership, through the last 15 or so years, we’ve tackled projects of all shapes and sizes. Some of our projects have been fairly small — a storyboard, a case for a single artifact, a shadowbox, or a backdrop. Others have been rather large — theming a four-story building to look, feel, sound, and smell like a modern U.S. Navy aircraft carrier. That one included a mile and a half of wall space to decorate. Work days became workouts, for sure.

Along the way, I’ve learned to pay attention to the big picture and to the smallest of details. If you approach a big, somewhat nebulous project with the tiniest imaginable fork, you’ll probably get very discouraged before you see much progress. And if you get to the end of a project where all that’s required is fine tuning and a bit of tweaking, it’s not the best time to tackle things with a giant meat fork or even a pitchfork. Make sure your fork matches your project. Or your spoon, or whatever. You get the metaphor.

Copper towel thief 6 months

Napkin, anyone? Copper, age 6 months

Copper has learned the difference between retrieving a tennis ball, and playing with bubbles drifting on the breeze. One toy takes all he can give it. The other…not quite so much. He knows the lesson of the forks very well. Also, apparently, the lesson of the dinner napkin, which is, “What’s it worth to you?”

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