2006: Issue 13
Yes, it is that time of year when fireworks abound as we celebrate our nation’s birthday. I enjoy the aerial shows, and am one of many who spontaneously sound out, “oooow, ahhhh” as I watch the spectacular sights unfold.
I have always wondered how fireworks are made, and perhaps one day will tour a factory to understand or better yet, find one of the craftsmen to tell me. In the meantime, I read an article about an artificier—the French word referring to someone professionally engaged in pyrotechnic arts--and realized that manufacturing the firework may be the easy part. Putting together an aerial pyrotechnic show that creates the magic, the splendor, the illumination that elicits “oooows and ahhhhs” from the audience over and over again is the real challenge.
Mr. Hale, the artificier, describes how he composes his shows, focusing first and foremost on safety and adherence to the rigorous state and federal regulations that oversee the industry. Then he mentions the importance of knowing his venue, clarifying the customer’s expectations, planning for the expected and unexpected, and ultimately, delegating to a reliable team so that the show has the best chance of “going off” as planned.
I had never realized how much work, thought, time, and creativity goes into a fireworks show….isn’t that true of so much in life. We rarely see the behind the scenes work that is so critical to a successful performance, of any type, that at times we tend to discount the value. I see many examples of this in my daily work, from the technician turned manager who is given one day of orientation and sent out to lead; or the receptionist who after an hour with his boss is put on the front line; or the physician whose completed residency is deemed enough of a qualification that she is ready to “build her practice.” And we wonder why we have so many problems.
Fortunately, I also see the examples of those who like Mr. Hale, get it. They know that to realize the optimal benefit of having the critical technical skills, they must recognize the interdependence on the artistic skills. They know this takes practice, experience, exposure, guidance, planning and thought, and they are willing to invest resources in what many see as the invaluable or minimally valuable intangibles. By doing so, they get the “oooows and ahhhs” that escape the rest.
Copyright 2006, Extra Ordinary Living, Inc. All rights reserved.