This…..is our house.
This is the view from what used to be the kitchen, looking out towards what used to be our family room, behind which you can see what was once our patio. All of it in demoliton mode. Just to make sure you get the whole story, add to the picture Master bedroom, bathroom, garage, laundry room, and home office. My wife and I are living in my (former) poker room like a couple of new grads in a single-room efficiency.
The contractors targeted end of September as the finish line. Yeah, I know….that means Christmas at the earliest. [Just kidding guys, if it goes that long you won’t need to worry about me, Karen will have buried me in the backyard (and don’t believe the suicide note.)]
Our world, as we know it, has turned upside down.
Metaphor alert….you ready? It’s times like these that test our mettle, right? “Upsetting the apple cart” is more than an inconvenience, it’s also an exercise in change management. Much like a sweeping change, acquisition, or merger in the workplace, the human dynamic is every bit as critical as the procedural dynamic. And in this particular instance, with the walls literally falling in all around me, I can’t help but take comfort knowing we are only exhibiting the predictable behaviors that manifest during times of uncertainty and disruption.
- It’s about ME! – Change feels personal; By 7am most mornings, we already have 2 or 3 workers jackhammering, scraping, bracing, bracketing and (eventually) re-building the house. These guys are very much in my space, and God Bless ’em, they’re usually working 12 hours later. But this is about me, right? My routine is different, I don’t know where the hell anything is, there’s dust and dirt everywhere, I walk through the backyard to get to the shower – – it’s like living in Arkansas. And to a person, each of us in the family are voicing our personal gripes, usually (actually always) without considering that “I’m not the ONLY one being affected.” What a difference it makes in your attitude when you start to view things from the perspective of those around you. My wife, for instance, is stuck sharing a bathroom with her filthy husband and two dirtbag sons. Gross.
- Share The “End State” – Without the final result in mind, this will be change for the sake of change. Change takes energy – you can channel that energy towards a common goal, or you can burn energy pulling in different directions. You need a North Star to keep you pointed in the right direction, and that takes leadership. In our case, our GC is communicative, responsive, and supportive. At a particularly tough moment during the re-model, he sent pictures of what the finished product would look like – “light at the end of the tunnel,” he said. A small message, but it carried great impact. Without a clear vision these nights in captivity would be much more stressful. Even my wife has her “idea boards” with photographs of beautiful kitchens, bedrooms, family rooms., etc. These images, even if only dreams, create a picture of what will be.
- When People Get Squeezed, You Find Out What’s Inside ~ Change, especially significant change, can apply the kind of pressure that brings out the ugly in people. Pushed out of your comfort zone, put into a different environment, and being put into close quarters can cause friction, finger-pointing, and ultimately – a loss in productivity. My wife has OCD tendencies that largely go unnoticed – until we’re stuck in a 15 x 15 room that acts as a bedroom, office, and living area. If we’re not careful, 2 of us will go in the room but only 1 will come out. We can’t change our DNA, but we can be aware of the traps that will ultimately cause discord.
- It’s Messy ~ Pick your metaphor, but like the man said, if you walk into heart surgery half-way through the process, you’d think a murder was being committed. We’re cooking omelettes here, right? Eggs are cracking all over the place. There’s just no getting around it – even the change will change. It was Day 1 of our re-model, and I heard these words; “We’ve experienced a set-back.” On Day 1. Honestly, I laughed…you can’t expect something as significant as this re-model (or, say, a merger?) to be pretty, or for it to go without hiccups. There will be mistakes, there will be setbacks, and there will be even more change as a result. Don’t watch how they make the sausage, just enjoy that sucker when it’s finally ready to serve. There, that’s 3 metaphors for the price of one.
- Celebrate the Small Things ~ “Dream big, but think small.” If we wait until the final punch list is completed, we’ll live in frustration for the next 5 months. There must also be times we celebrate the progress we see on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. Put the flooring down? Cheers! Changed to a single payroll system? Salúte! Don’t wait for the big payoff, and don’t minimize accomplishments along the way – enjoy each moment, knowing you’re one step closer to having a shower attached to your bedroom.
(Apologies to my friends from Arkansas.)