Grit has been defined as “perseverance and passion for long-term goals”
I’m generally a calm, composed guy. During the first months of 2016 I’ve had yelling fits, thrown a loaf of bread across the kitchen(the delicious, soft whole wheat kind too) and sobbed in frustration(real men cry). At the start of this journey in 2013 I thought designing and building this car from scratch would be relatively straightforward(this must be why mildly insane people do this sort of thing): Make an awesome design, build what I can and find skilled people to help with the rest. Little did I know that the latter would be so difficult and present the most frustrating challenges.
Early this year my chassis builder, Robert Metcalf lost key manpower due to unfortunate circumstances. Robert has helped engineer Caden’s chassis and is fabricating it as well. Since his manpower loss(two fabricators in a short span of time), progress on the chassis has come to a crawl for several months, despite very actively looking for skilled help to get unstuck. Worse, without the chassis we cannot advance on the bodywork side. The attachment scheme, the plan for attaching the body to the chassis requires the chassis to be on hand and that’s all on hold.
To add insult to injury, earlier this year a certain subcontractor that had promised me that a key component would be fabricated by (last) Christmas threw a bomb on me. This person strung me along for several months before declaring in fickle manner that he no longer felt like completing the project. I was stunned. This level of carelessness, flakiness and incompetence was mind-bending and lost me a great deal of time and money. Lesson learned? Always, always use trusted references!
When I began this project I was naive and sheltered from the world outside of a well-oiled company. An established car company has a project manager procuring, vetting and planning with subcontractors, accounting making sure that the budget is in place, a P.R staff, marketing etc. etc. When you call and say “Carlos from Mazda is calling” they listen. You’ve got the name behind you. You have so much support. As an entrepreneur establishing a new company I wear ALL of those hats. At times this can cause feelings of isolation and frustration, especially during long, grey and cold northeast Ohio winters! Give a brother a hug...
Something else is happening though. A silver lining is emerging. The challenges have changed me, made me develop muscles that weren’t there before. The passion part of the grit equation has always been healthy in me, and I never take that for granted. But the perseverance muscle has grown as a result of the increased load. I am more direct, more focused. Confrontations don’t bother me as much as they used to. Thicker skin. My faith is stronger. The challenges have pushed me to rely on the unseen, to believe that I have hit rough waters for a reason and things will click at the right time. Furthermore, Project Caden’s design has evolved in exciting new ways directly as a result of the hardships.
If certain obstacles had not taken place, I would not have taken a second look at Caden’s exterior design. The downtime got me experimenting on the design again. I’m really excited about the new direction the design has taken. I feel that it’s solidifying the “Inspired by vintage race cars, expressed through modern design” theme and the SALAFF form vocabulary is getting stronger.
Fighting the blues and being ready to strike when the time is is right is about keeping your head in the game. There are just some things I can’t control. For those things I trust the one above. For everything else I press on. Aside from the design developments on the exterior, I am working on the interior as much as possible. I think it’s crucial to make an exciting, beautiful and functional interior. It is, after all the architectural environment that the pilot lives in—it’s so tied into the driving experience.
As frustrating as it has been for the chassis development to stagnate due the manpower loss, I feel so grateful when I think about how far we have come. In 2013 there was only an idea. Now the beast is truly coming to life. I believe in the power of grit and see the silver lining and purpose in the hardships.