I’ve been renovating a house now for more than a decade. In doing so, I’ve discovered certain truths, five lessons from renovation, that I’ve been able to apply to my business and life. For one thing, 10 years ago I had never considered the fact that I would one day be crawling under a house with a welding torch. But, as I’ve learned, just because we can’t picture ourselves doing something is never reason not to do it!
I may not look smart covered in sawdust but the process has been been a brilliant education. Here are my five lessons from renovation.
1. Pay attention. When working with power tools it’s absolutely essential. You might wonder how this translates to life; after all, we aren’t always working with saws that spin so fast they will take your hand off in a second. It’s about being mindful, focused, and taking a deep breath before we do anything. Relaxing the body and emptying the mind to just what lays directly in front us keeps us aware, in the moment and able to accomplish anything without harm to our bodies or our souls.
2. Don’t stop just because things get hard. That there will be difficult times large and small is a given. How you react is not. You will want to stop if you actually consider the enormity of what you are doing – whether that’s looking at 1,600 feet of renovation, writing a book or starting a business. Break it down into small projects, one at a time, and little by little it really does all get done. The results at the end of the day are well worth it!
3. There is always a solution. I used to get mad at inanimate objects that didn’t obey me until I realized that there always a reason why a problem is occurring. Getting frustrated only stands in the way of clarity.
4. He who dares wins. This phrase which was embraced by British RAF pilots during World War II applies to construction and for life. Take a chance. There are people who agonize over paint colors and drawer pulls. Why? Life is just too short to second-guess yourself. Whatever it is, just do it!
5. Use applied strength. By this I mean, you can’t just clobber something with a hammer and expect it to respond in a meaningful way. But you also can’t be afraid to be strong and use muscle. I learned this when I was taking out a window. It was taking me hours tapping at the two-by-fours that held it in. Then I realized that this was demo. It wasn’t finish work. As soon as I got over my fear of showing and using my strength, I got that window out in no time. Applied strength in life and business is an art form as well. Never be afraid to be strong in the face of something that needs to be changed.
There are so many more instances other than construction that I have to rely on my own strength, cleverness, diligence and hard-headedness. I’m not saying there isn’t challenge, suffering (the one-inch splinter comes to mind) or dark days. All I’m saying is that we are all under construction every day and that’s OK.