Oppenheimer Inspiration: The Art of Patience In Service To Quality


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“It takes time to create excellence.

If it could be done quickly, more people would do it.”

– John Wooden

Yesterday marked the 2024 Oscars in Hollywood, and my attention was particularly piqued, courtesy of fellow Irishman Cillian Murphy, who clinched the Best Actor award for his role in the movie “Oppenheimer.”

While the film itself is a masterful piece of cinematic art, it’s the journey from inception to screen that fascinates me.

Based on the book “American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer,” penned by Martin Sherwin and Kai Bird, this project stands as a testament to the enduring power of patience and dedication.

What astounded me most was the timeline:

  • a staggering 25 years to bring this literary masterpiece to fruition.

Originally embarked upon by Martin Sherwin in 1980, his research was detailed and in-depth but crucially he kept delaying the actual writing. It was a project beset by procrastination of the highest order!

In 2000, 20 years after he started, Sherwin struck a new deal and brought a friend and fellow writer, Kai Bird, on board to start the writing.

In 2005, their labor of love emerged as a 721-page biography, meticulously crafted with both sweeping narrative and intimate detail. The accolades poured in, culminating in a Pulitzer Prize.

Hollywood came calling then and the book was optioned for development as a movie. But nothing happened for many years and the writers became disillusioned and gave up on seeing it on screen.

Then, in 2021, fate intervened as the book landed in the hands of the award winning Director, Christopher Nolan, who accomplished the seemingly impossible feat of bringing the movie to the silver screen by 2023 – 43 years after the initial project had started!

In an era marked by instant gratification and the relentless pursuit of speed, the story of “Oppenheimer” serves as a poignant reminder of the lost art of patience and the enduring value of quality, considered craftsmanship.

There’s merit in taking time on certain projects or key areas. As Susan Sherwin, wife of Martin aptly said, “The industry had a willingness to nurture people and projects in a way that’s kind of unimaginable today.”

There are many areas in our lives that would likely benefit from more time and consideration.

What in your work and life would benefit from more time?

Where can you take more time to cultivate real excellence?

Here’s to a week of meaningful progress.




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