The Painstaking Pleasure of Patience

Published: September 26, 2023

The Tiffany Dome was originally crafted in 1897 when the current Chicago Cultural Center opened as the then Chicago Public Library. At 38 feet in diameter, the dome holds 62,000 pieces of glass inside 243 sections. A complete restoration was finished in 2008, allowing natural light to enter the space that had been blocked since the previous restoration in the 1930’s. Teams of all shapes and sizes can learn a few things from this wide-scale, multiphase project.

Fast-forward to today. Craftspeople are now inspecting and securing each and every single one of the seemingly infinite mosaic tiles adorning the iron cast frame that supports the dome. Tile by tile, the artist taps to determine the condition of each less-than-1-inch space, and then intervenes according to the diagnostic sound the tapping produces. The work is slow, arduous, and painstaking. Their craftsmanship offers many lessons for teams in any industry.

  • In a world where anything can be obtained with a click, there are some things that still require decades to achieve. Careers, relationships, and workplace cultures are standout examples. They all require diligence to achieve and patience to sustain.
  • True interdependence forces teammates to function as a single entity with interlocking parts. The two workers on the scaffolding in the dome restoration photo are moving as one. The task they are undertaking needs two brains, four ears, four eyes, and four hands to be collaborating in perfect harmony.
  • Rhythm and pace matter. Slow and steady wins the race. The urge to be finished must be quelled and the joy of celebration deferred. There’s a beginning, a middle, and an end. Each of those phases have their own individual beginnings, middles, and ends. The magic happens when the artist learns to stay in the moment while consistently moving forward.
  • Skill is accrued. Each decade of life has growth and learning that require the previous decades’ acquisitions. Simply, a gifted 30 year-old is incapable of producing the same quality as a similarly gifted 60 year-old with the same talented wiring. The additional thirty years of experience can’t be duplicated with the push of a button. You have to live it, and the way it’s lived must be receptive to continuous improvement. Do you have 30 years of experience or one year of experience thirty times?

Pleasure is the result of painstaking patience. The rewards that come from hard work are much different than the buzz that follows easy acquisition. Many of us partner in 5-generation workplaces where each age group has something unique and valuable to contribute to the culture. The current ‘silent’ and ‘boomer’ generations are slowly exiting their careers as Xers, Millennials, and Z’s take over the show. Hopefully, the lessons of the slow movers can be imparted to their speedy colleagues before they depart.

Photo of Steve Ritter, the co-founder of The Center for Team Excellence

Steve Ritter

Steve Ritter is an internationally recognized expert on team dynamics whose clients include Fortune 500 companies, professional sports teams, and many educational organizations. He is on the faculty of the Center for Professional Excellence at Elmhurst University where he earned the President's Award for Excellence in Teaching. Steve is the former Senior Vice President, Director of Human Resources at Leaders Bank, named the #1 Best Place to Work in Illinois in 2006 and winner of the American Psychological Association's Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award in 2010. Steve provides ongoing workplace culture consultation to many thriving companies including Kraft Foods, Advocate Health Care, Kellogg's, the Chicago White Sox, AthletiCo, and Northwestern Mutual Financial Network.