Several years ago, I was saddened to hear news of the passing (link) of a man who taught me a great deal about life; Mr. Anderson, co-owner of “The Masters Touch” hair salon in Columbus, OH.
Ed’s chair wasn’t just his occupation – it was his ministry. I remember all of the times where he meticulously cut my hair, sharing a little bit of his life story with me as each strand of hair fell to the floor.
Even at a young age, Ed treated me like a man. In fact, that was the thing I remembered most strongly about him. I’d watch as he’d slather American Crew pomade delicately between his fingers and apply it to my freshly-cut hair.
“This smells like a man ought to smell” I’d think, taking in the thick aroma of Crew.
What struck me about Ed was the way in which he approached life. The Masters Touch wasn’t just a salon; it was his life practice, as he put the greatest level of detail into everything his hands found to work on – from decorations to home renovations, Ed had a remarkable way of going the extra mile.
Ed taught me to see things a little bit differently – including the art of cutting hair. He taught me that going the extra mile with what your hands find to do isn’t just a best-practice, it’s an opportunity to deliver excellence in a world starving for it.
I miss Ed. A lot. From the way he’d shake my hand, to the strong, firm voice he carried as he’d share his testimony a little bit with me each time I sat in his chair.
Loss is one of life’s toughest lessons. Nothing can ever prepare you for the phone call where you receive the news of a loved one passing. It’s as if the floor of your gut suddenly fell out, and anything that seemed important that day is now the furthest thing from your mind.
When I look inside of my heart, I often see shadows of pain for times that could have gone differently – or lasted just one moment longer. These shadows are often accompanied by the reminder that whenever I hurt, the spirit of our loved ones is never far away.
Before parting on my journey to Bali, I sat down at an airport and wondered what the next steps of life would be like, and how I would approach the new chapters ahead.
“I want to do things intentionally” I thought, “with a touch of class and elegance.”
Day by day, that’s when I started to feel the Masters Touch enter into my life.
I started to re-examine the way I approached work. Rather than just paying the bills, I saw every new client as an opportunity to serve others and deliver solutions. Work, while not always enjoyable, transformed into something I get to do rather than something I have to do.
With each step in the journey, I began to feel a familiar presence around me. Ed.
I can’t explain it very well, but his spirit seemed to nudge me whenever I took a leap of faith, put ego aside, and stepped into the state of flow where The Masters Touch seemed to reside.
Little by little, bad habits have started to break. Improvements have entered my life. And I’ve bitten the hard reality of many difficult lessons life has thrown my way. Yet, now I begin to see the beauty that comes when you make room for something other than yourself…
As years have gone by since Ed’s passing, I now realize the part he played in my life. It was to teach me to put my hands to the plow with joy, enthusiasm, and be willing to go the extra mile no matter what task was set in front of me; from working in the plant, or delivering a heartfelt apology and owning times I didn’t get it right.
The Masters Touch is everywhere you allow it to be in your life.
Ever since I started to paint, there’s been an innate desire to create something beautiful….a masterpiece.
This pursuit has been an evasive one, which I’ve only begun to scratch the surface. After all, it takes 10,000 hours to truly master a craft, topic, or career.
This long race may be familiar to you as well, if you’ve identified that you’re capable of mastery in what your hands find to do. While difficult, I think you’ll agree that there’s no pursuit worth more in life than mastery.
Mastery comes on a lot of levels. For example, you can be a master parent, teacher, banker, or even friend. As with art, there’s no limit to where beauty can display itself.
Recently, I stared at a painting on my wall. Since its creation, I didn’t like the piece. As time went by, it seemed to glare at me, asking for something different to hang between the frame.
Eventually, it got to the point where every glance of the painting drew a sense of self-loathing; I knew something better was around the corner…if I was willing to let go of what was…
Finally, I picked up the canvas and took it down to my studio, carefully mounting it on the easel and assembling the paints that would soon fly.
I began. It fought me. Nothing seemed to work well, as the paint blurred into an ugly blob of nothingness.
“Well, now I’m worse off than when I started…”
I walked away, went to sleep, and decided to approach it with fresh eyes in the morning.
Suddenly, it started to come together. Stroke by stroke, I started to see a painting unfold that startled me.
Today, I stepped back and looked at the finished piece. It represented victory over several difficult chapters in my life. It transformed hurts into joy. Tears into laughter….
Ed’s spirit seemed close enough to whisper in my ear:
“This is just a taste, Aaron. Wait until you see the world where The Masters Touch is everywhere…”