It’s making your own tools! Here’s why:
The act of creating your own tools is something that’s deeply rooted in our DNA. This exact thing has set us apart from primates, and this may be the reason why it is such a fulfilling thing to do.
Constructing a physical tool, building a software application, or creating a process or workflow – they are similar recipes for the same dish. Here’s my take on why this is the holy grail of making.
Better tooling often leads to being able to do something better. Which could mean a better outcome, or the same outcome but with (much) less effort. Or both! The positive effect is that this opens up time/capacity to work on new problems, there you go, progress!
And tools have the premise of giving you the possiblity of doing something you weren’t able to do before. Of improving something. And this could be not just tailored to you but something many others could benefit from too.
It’s that feeling of having made your life easier, (yes, even if automating the thing has taken more time than you’d spent on it in a lifetime of doing manually) – that’s not the point! You’re also saving yourself a bit of cognitive load.
And using that tool you’ve created frequently and thinking: I made this, and I still really like it. There’s nothing like that feeling.
And seeing others enjoy the thing you’ve made, that’s even better! That’s why I’m in this game. To make useful things, and to enjoy the process of building those. And when I say useful, it could be as useful as making someone smile, that’s a level of utility I’d also be happy with.
And it doesn’t have to be something new or original either. It could be a better version of something that already exists. Or it could be much worse even – the beauty of it is: it could still work for you! You’ll still get your ‘I made that’ feeling.
It’s something you have crafted, in a way an extension of yourself, and it therefore gets an identity of its own too. This is very different than something you buy off the shelf.
And you get to tailor it to your exact needs, incredible! :).
And it is amazing to see that a single individual is able to create something that takes whole teams of people to build. That is such a powerful thing. And with it comes the ‘I can do that attitude’. Reminds you of the Artist’s mindset, does it?
The act of building a tool, not even using it – could be enough. It could be the process of building that is the most enjoyable part for you – great! I’ve built many things where I could argue that their existence couldn’t be justified by their fuctionality. But boy, I had gotten so much learnings and valuable experiences out of building them. This is one of the key reasons why I recommend building your own. You can’t beat hands-on experience!
I’ve built serious machines that do silly things.
It can’t be all sunshine and rainbows, right? Where’s the dark bits? Spit it!
Well, it could be argued that the feeling, or the dream of wanting to make a certain tool gets shattered once you actually make it. That promise of what it could be, if only you’d make it, will cease to exist.
But our brains are creative idea machines, so this doesn’t have to be an issue, you simply move on to the next idea. Focus on enjoying the build, not necessarily the outcome.
I’ve experienced the light version of this many times before, let’s call it ‘buying power tools you don’t really need’. I’d tell myself that if only I’d bought a specific piece of gear, the universe would open up and amazing things would happen. Well, you still need to make those things happen!
Go and build those (also silly!) tools and enjoy the process. It can be an infinite source of joy. And as I’ll have to do as I say, I’ll be doing some very exciting builds that I’ll be documenting here. In text, and possibly even (moving) images!