Recently, I was reminded of the importance of stepping back and taking a fresh look at old projects. Years ago my kids helped me complete two outdoor projects. Now they were pretty young, so allow me some leeway when I say that they helped. The first project was a small fire-pit surrounded by a red “Ohio” brick. The next was a wooden castle tower. As a family we had many hours of enjoyment by the fire and playing together.
Like many new things, that newness eventually wore off. We tried to add on features to bring back that excitement, adding tiki torches to the fire pit, a slide to the castle. This seemed to help in the short run as the kids grew older, but in the long run it did not address underlying issue that we were growing out of the projects.
Each time I sat in my living room and looked out the window I could see the castle. It just sat there, unused and deteriorating, rotting. Year after year I remember the fond memories that were had, wishing for just a moment to go back to that time.
One day, near the end of this summer, I was sitting outside doing some planning for my publishing company when it came to me (I often find that when my head is cloudy or I need to make a big change, that going outside helps the process a great deal). While I was business planning it kind of came to me that I was sitting in plain view of the old fire pit and castle. That’s when it hit me.
The projects that my kids, now much older than when they had assisted me in building, had now turned into chores of constantly weeding the fire pit bricks, or trimming and painting the castle. I could see it happening but continued to ignore it because of what it represented. I was paralyzed in a way. It’s not like I thought it would last forever, but kids grow up darn it. I was afraid of what ripping up the fire pit or tearing down the castle represented, besides the work involved.
Pretty much the decision was made then and there, it was time to move on. It was time to get rid of both of the old projects. I instantly felt better. That is, until I shared my proclamation with the rest of the family, my team. Words were thrown here and there. Words like, “How could you?”, “There goes a piece of my childhood”, “I’m not helping” and more, but you get the point. Then I was all like, “Hey, I built them, I can say what happens to them, and you boys are going to help.” You see the mistake that I had just made there, right? So, if I didn’t want to do all the work myself and be responsible destroying childhood memories, I had to work on an entirely different sort of rebuilding project.
Even though I had put in the majority of the work to create the project, I had forgotten one simple thing. These projects were created years ago when I had more time to devote to such things. A time when I was the only driving force to get the job done. But now my team was invested in what happened to these projects, these pieces of their life, their own memories.
After having rebuilt the trust of my team, I made it a point to involve them in the decision of how to best take these two projects that had given us great enjoyment as a family in the past and create something new. Something that we could continue to enjoy in the future. We created a grill-patio. We decided to reuse the bricks and what we could of the castle and create something entirely new that could once again be enjoyed by all of us. As you may have noticed in the picture, it is bordered in by the 4x4 posts that once served as the corners of our castle tower. The red bricks by the way are from a brick company that no longer exists. Each brick has the word OHIO molded right into it.
At this point in the post I am hoping that you might see a correlation here between yourself and your own projects? The story I just told you is true (I followed Rule #2 with the pictures). It was this experience that gave me the push to redirect some of my earlier business projects in a way that could be more beneficial to a greater number of people involved, as well as those I serve.
You can still salvage your relationship, business, etc. . . . but you have to be willing to make sacrifices (we couldn’t use all the wood). But we were able to save the foundational columns, the support, and rebuild from there. For us, the foundation was to be able to have a place to share with family and friends, brothers, cousins, etc. Enjoy the results of what it means to work and play together. Sometimes merging multiple projects is the answer. In other cases, it might mean taking what you currently have and moving in an entirely new direction while keeping to your core family or business values.
I’ll leave you with this, take ten minutes a day. Heck, it’s only ten minutes. Turn of the phone, not mute, turn it off. Turn everything else off too. You know, they put that power button on there for a reason. Sit on a swing, in a chair, in your car, it doesn’t matter. Just sit and think about one of your current projects and why you are doing what you do. Again, just pick one of your projects for now. Does it still serve its purpose? Has that purpose changed? Did the project stray from the original purpose? Have you changed? I’m not saying that you have to come up with a life changing epiphany, or create a new project out of two old ones. But no matter how much we want things to stay the same, they always change. That’s necessarily a bad thing, being left behind is. You don’t have to keep up with every trend either. But if you made a commitment to your family or business, you do them a disservice if you neglect the fact that they grow and change as well. As long as it is a strong foundation and purpose, it will survive growing up.