May the Great Architect of the universe enable us as successfully to carry out and finish this work. May He protect the workmen from danger and accident, and long preserve the structure from decay; and may He grant us all our needed supply, the corn of nourishment, the wine of refreshment, and the oil of joy, Amen. So mote it be. – Masonic Order prayer, Wikipedia
If you’ve been following along, what we’ve been doing so far is understanding where you are right now – because that’s the place from where you start.
What happens next depends on two things.
The foundation you start with and the structure you build.
So, to wrap up this first act let’s look at the idea of building and see what we can learn from it.
The foundation stone
What do the words “foundation stone” bring to mind?
I thought of it as something like the first brick, one that starts everything off.
But, it is much more than that.
It’s also called a cornerstone and in addition to being the first it’s also the one used to decide where every other stone goes.
The entire structure that’s built afterwards will be positioned with reference to this stone.
So, it matters. It’s important.
And it leads to the question – how will you lay your foundation stone?
What you’re trying to achieve
The Masonic prayer that starts this post sets out everything you need to keep in mind.
It asks for God’s help to start the work, carry it out successfully, have the resources needed to do the job safely, finish it, and build something that will endure over time.
Is there anything else you want for your project?
This overarching principle, expressed as a prayer, captures the essence of what you are trying to achieve when you get started on something new.
But, to actually get your build done, you need to do two things.
You need build on sound foundations, on ground that will support the structure you want to create.
And you have to have a clear idea of the structure you want to build, have a design that you’re going to try and make real.
When it comes to business that means you have to do two things.
You have to look back at your life and experience so far because that’s the foundation you will build on.
Then you look forward, create a design for the future that you want to build
Then you get started by laying the foundation stone, the one that will determine how the structure you build will be positioned.
And, of course, you want to build something that’s going to be of use, that’s going to be valuable for the rest of your life – because you’ll be around to see it and it’s something that you want to be proud of.
The importance of rituals
The laying of a foundation stone has, over time, become a ritual act.
That’s why there is a prayer and a ceremony.
And this makes sense, when you think about it.
When you do something as important as positioning the first stone, you need to get it right.
And you get things right by paying attention to the details, by focusing on getting it right.
And what better way to do that than in full view of everyone, under scrutiny.
In that situation, everyone involved wants to get it perfect, and will check and double check everything that needs to be done.
In the Freemason ceremony they check and declare that the foundation stone is “duly and truly laid.”
I’m not suggesting that you start your project with a prayer.
But, having some rituals makes it easier to get started.
For example, when you’re writing it’s hard to start with a blank page.
One of my rituals is to start with freewriting – getting down three paragraphs of anything which I’m not going to use anyway.
Once that’s done the words I’m going to use start to flow more easily.
Whether it’s going into an office, the morning cup of coffee, working in the same place every day – all the small habits and rituals make it easier to get started on your project every day.
And it’s with these small acts that you will eventually build the grand structure you have in mind.
But before you do that we have to check the ground you’re building on.
We’ll start looking at that section next.