好導師的影響力

By Jim Mathis

1960年代當我在讀大學時,我注意到我讀的攝影雜誌背面有一個常常出現的廣告。那廣告說有一個地方能夠將柯達公司的Ektachrome牌底片「推處理(譯者註:將曝光不夠的底片補救處理)」到1600的速度,這在當時是從沒聽過的。這點非常重要,因為Ektachrome底片通常的速度只有160,而當時的風格是傾向較低光的攝影。

而那地方的地址更令人好奇。那是在堪薩斯州草原村的一間房子。我想像那是「草原上的一間小房子」,就類似當時流行的一個電視節目。那間攝影實驗室的名字是「艾爾金.史密斯的35工作室」。後來我得知艾爾金.史密斯被世界各地稱為「在堪薩斯州那個了解一切有關Ektachrome底片的人」。

1971年我搬到堪薩斯市,我就去附近的草原村找史密斯先生。我們很快變成好朋友,而且當我在1973年開了我自己的照片處理實驗室,艾爾金.史密斯成為我的生命導師。他和他的妻子桃樂絲也介紹許多生意給我,讓我的公司有一個很好的開始。

無論何時當我向攝影業的任何人提到「艾爾金.史密斯」的名字,我總是得到同樣的回應:「很棒的人!」或「艾爾金會是你最想遇見的好人。」

他有另一個非常重要的特質:不屈不撓地追求卓越。他做的每件作品都是最高品質。他不接受次好的。

這些年來我了解到那也是我努力的特質。當我聽到別人形容我是一個「好人」時,我總是很高興。我喜歡人,並且也努力被喜歡。但我也在每件我做的事上追求卓越,不論是攝影、音樂、寫作或人際關係。

作為一個有信仰的人,知道聖經非常注重這兩項特質對我非常有意義。例如,基督教的基本價值觀就包括「仁愛、喜樂、和平、忍耐、恩慈、良善、信實、溫柔、節制。這樣的事沒有律法禁止」(加拉太書5章22-23節)。

另一處經文談到耶穌的跟隨者要「分外地殷勤;有了信心,又要加上德行;有了德行,又要加上知識;有了知識,又要加上節制;有了節制,又要加上忍耐;有了忍耐,又要加上虔敬;有了虔敬,又要加上愛弟兄的心;有了愛弟兄的心,又要加上愛眾人的心」(彼得後書1章5-7節)。

聖經也強調工作卓越的重要性。聖經告訴我們:「無論做甚麼,都要從心裏做,像是給主做的,不是給人做的」(歌羅西書3章23節)。對我而言,這表示做每件事都要盡我們的全力,就好像上帝在後面看著我們,評鑑我們努力的程度和我們工作的品質。

我的生命導師艾爾金.史密斯已經過世,但他的影響仍然留在我的生活中,尤其他尋求成為一個良善、友好的人並在工作中表現卓越都是我的榜樣。直到今天,我還是常想:「艾爾金.史密斯會怎麼做?」

吉姆.馬提斯在堪薩斯州陸路公園市經營一家照相館。他的專長是商業和影劇界人像。他也經營一所攝影學校。他還寫了一本書「一般民眾的高度攝影表現」,那是一本有關數位攝影的書。他曾是一家咖啡店的經理,也曾是CBMC在堪薩斯州堪薩斯市和密蘇里州堪薩斯市的執行主任。

思想 / 討論題目
你是否有一位生命導師,或某個對你職業生涯有深刻影響的人?若有,請描述那人以及他或她對你的影響。 誰是你遇見過最好的人?為何你認為那人最好?你也想成為那樣的人嗎?為什麼? 在你的工作中追求卓越--不論做什麼事都不斷努力達到最高品質又如何呢?這對你是重要的事嗎?或者這在你的環境中是否切合實際?請解釋。 本文作者引述聖經經文「像是給主做的,不是給人做的」。你認為這是什麼意思?在今天這高度複雜、競爭的工商環境中是否是切合實際的目標?註:若你有聖經且想要看有關此主題的其他經文,請看:
哥林多前書13章4-7節;以弗所書4章31-32節;歌羅西書3章12-14節;箴言21章5節,22章29節,27章18節


THE INFLUENCE OF A GOOD MENTOR
By Jim Mathis

When I was in college in the 1960s, I noticed a recurring ad in the back of photography magazines I read. It told about a place having the capacity for “push-processing” Ektachrome slide film to the speed of 1600, unheard of at that time. This was very important because Ektachrome had a normally slow film speed of 160, and the style of the day was toward more low-light photography.

The address seemed even more intriguing. It was a house in Prairie Village, Kansas. I envisioned a “little house on the prairie,” similar to a popular TV show of that time. The name of the photographic laboratory was "Elgin Smith’s Studio 35." I later learned Elgin Smith was known worldwide as "that guy in Kansas who knew all about Ektachrome."

When I moved to Kansas City in 1971, I sought out Mr. Smith in nearby Prairie Village. We soon became good friends and when I opened my own photo-processing lab in 1973, Elgin Smith became my mentor. He and his wife, Dorothy, also sent a lot of business our way, giving the company a huge kick-start.

Whenever I mentioned the name "Elgin Smith" to anyone in the photography industry, I always received the same response: "What a great guy!" or, "Elgin is the nicest person you would ever want to meet."

He had another very important characteristic: unyielding pursuit of excellence. Everything he did was of the highest quality. Elgin Smith would accept no less.

Over the years I realized those were qualities I have strived for as well. I am always pleased when I hear myself described as a "nice guy." I like people and try hard to be likable. But I also pursue excellence in everything I do, whether it is photography, music, writing, or relationships.

Being a person of faith, it is very meaningful for me to know these two qualities get a lot of attention in the Bible. For instance, among the basic values of Christianity are “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).

Another passage tells Jesus” followers, “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love” (2 Peter 1:5-7).

The Bible also underscores the importance of working with excellence. It tells us, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men” (Colossians 3:23). To me that means doing everything to the best of our ability, as if God were looking over our shoulder, assessing our effort and the quality of our work.

My mentor Elgin Smith has passed away, but his influence on my life remains, especially his examples in seeking to be a good, friendly person and in performing with excellence. To this day, I often think, “What would Elgin Smith do?”

Jim Mathis is the owner of a photography studio in Overland Park, Kansas, specializing in executive, commercial and theatrical portraits, and operates a school of photography. Jim is the author of High Performance Cameras for Ordinary People, a book on digital photography. He formerly was a coffee shop manager and executive director of CBMC in Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri.

Reflection/Discussion Questions
Do you have a mentor, or someone that had made a profound impression on your professional life? If so, describe that individual and the impact that he or she made on you. Who is the nicest person you ever met? Why do you have that opinion, and would you like to be described in similar terms? Why or why not? What about pursuing excellence in your work – continually striving to achieve the highest quality in whatever you do? Is that something that is important to you, or is it even realistic in your circumstances? Explain your answer. Mr. Mathis cites the Bible verse that talks about “working for the Lord, not for people.” What do you think that means? Is it a practical goal in today”s highly complex, competitive business environment? Why or why not?If you would like to look at or discuss other portions of the Bible that relate to this topic, consider the following brief sampling of passages: 1 Corinthians 13:4-7; Ephesians 4:31-32; Colossians 3:12-14; Proverbs 21:5, 22:29, 27:18

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