“When Will You Make An End?”…


Pope Julius II: When will you make an end? 
Michelangelo: When I am finished! 

Repeated exchange in The Agony and the Ecstasy” (1965) on IMDB 

I remember two things about this film which starred Charlton Heston as Michelangelo and Rex Harrison as Pope Julius II.  The film focused on the relationship between the two men, one a powerful religious and military leader and the other a gifted and driven artist.

One is the opening battle sequence, which includes a suspenseful introduction to an ongoing medieval battle and the other is this dialogue.  

Julius repeatedly challenges Michelangelo to work quicker, while the artist steadfastly and stubbornly works at a pace of his choosing.  The dialogue reflects the struggle between getting the job finished and doing it well.

Julius wants the Sistine Chapel painted as a monument to his papal rule and Michelangelo wants to create a masterpiece under very arduous circumstances.   The two clash repeatedly during the long film, which reflects the long process of painting the ceiling.

Think about painting 12, 000 square feet, mostly on your back,  next time you slap another coat on the bedroom or kitchen to spruce it up.

Consider the dynamics here:   The powerful and successful ruler wants something and has at his disposal considerable assets of wealth and influence to make it happen.   The artist has only his talent, a rare ability to create visual beauty.

One seeks recognition beyond his years and the other seeks perfection.

How does this remind you of today’s struggles in the workplace?   We are often pressured to do things “Just in Time” or “Good Enough“.   In an era of mass production, the idea of crafting something until it is really good seems almost quaint.   Who has time to do that anymore?

Our friendly online environment does not help us here.  The pressure to be first with a story, a statement, to share things immediately, pushes us farther away from doing it well toward doing it quick.

As you ponder  situations such as portrayed in this film about the 16th century and how today’s workplace operates, consider the issues of relationships, communication, conflict,and creation.

Do you ever find yourself being pressured to create more quickly than you would like?

What do you do?

Trying to fight the impulse to do it quick in the Heartland ….

John