Few kings in olden days built more than one castle. Frontier forts and military encampments aside, most lords or nobles made building a castle more of a life’s work.
Today, a medieval castle rises in Northwest Arkansas. Outside of that, though, I can’t think of anyone else actually building a castle. But Myles Montplaisir recently got me thinking about the concept as a metaphor for a life’s work.
Michael Hyatt discusses building a home base from which to extend your platform. Building a home base (for your platform) and building your castle (your life’s work) include many similarities. Let’s examine more deeply the castle metaphor.
A castle needs:
- An Architect: Simply put, your Castle needs you. You have the vision. You have the drive. You have to make it happen. But Architects don’t just wake up one day, gather their tools, and start building Castles. They have to acquire skills and experience, sometimes working under someone else on a different Castle. An Architect spends time tweaking his style and design before setting out to build his or her masterpiece.
- A Site: This might be approximated as a Platform. Michael Hyatt discusses building Platforms at length. Your Site must be carefully selected, but you can’t wait forever for the perfect conditions to present themselves. In short, a site should be prepared over time, establishing the right foundations with solid character and the trust of your circle of friends and greater community. After all, a Castle cannot survive without the means to support itself. Prepare the ground for your Castle by building relationships and cultivating the means to sustain your work.
- A Plan: Can you imagine going to work on a construction project with no blueprint? Can you imagine leading troops into battle with no plan? Take your time, consider the needs of your Castle and those who depend upon it, and plan accordingly. Don’t forget to draw your plan in pencil! If you’re not able to make adjustments as you go, your rigid plan will build a cold and inhospitable Castle.
- Materials: While your Site is the platform you build your Castle on, the Materials are those things with which you must actually build your life’s work (i.e.: Your Castle). These may include tangibles or intangibles or (more likely) both. You may need physical space to operate out of, you may need a community of contributors or a partnership of professionals, or you may simply need the attention of those you are seeking to impact. Gather these Materials over time to ensure a lasting supply. You wouldn’t want to find out you don’t have what you need when you’re halfway done building!
- Builders: You can dream the dream and even, under some circumstances, draw the Plan by yourself, but you could never build a Castle alone. Even if you could, it would take someone to pick up where you left off; a one-man building team would take more than a lifetime to get the job done! These Builders may be friends, family, colleagues, or acquaintances. They may be Architects-in-Training who you can develop, Architects-Emeritus who can develop you, Architects who regret never finishing their own Castles…every one of them will have his/her own story and motivation. It’s up to you to make this a gratifying experience for each one.
- A Crown: A life’s work is never finished. It may have several “Crowning Achievements” along the way, but it has no end. That said, your Castle must have a Crown that acknowledges its arrival and establishment. But the Crown is for the Castle, not the King. This is something I have to remind myself constantly. Because I sometimes suffer from an addiction to self, I often get in the way of my projects or achievements. These aren’t the Middle Ages, folks. There are no serfs, and the servants in today’s leadership culture are often those who sit on the throne! Serve the needs of your constituents– serve the needs of your Castle– and you will find a crown of righteousness for yourself after all.
Myles talks about “King/Queening” your Castle. At the completion of a medieval castle or even some modern buildings, the project is said to have been “crowned”. Until it’s finished, the Castle may seem like a pile of stones or a far-off fantasy. But as the Castle’s Crowning approaches, people will flock to its cause for shelter or a better future or greater opportunities.
A well-built Castle will stand the test of time. People will marvel at how it was built with only “primitive tools”, how something that took so long to realize could have survived the threat of invasion or poverty. To be sure, the skeletons of abandoned Castles lie strewn across the world. But a Castle Crowned, a life’s work pursued, is well worth the toil.