Meticulous Framing

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During a recent conversation with a close friend, we discussed the importance of building things that last.

Relationships.

Businesses.

Creative Stuff.

Sometimes we don’t always start the right way.

Sometimes we have to go back and fix.

In order to build on what exists, you have to make sure what is underneath is strong enough to handle what comes next.

Strong enough to last.

The very next day I was on a job site for the construction of a new home.

I met the team responsible for framing the home.

It wasn’t my first job site, but this site/this work stood out.

Clean, straight, and beautiful.

Meticulous Framing.


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After the tour, there were many compliments directed towards the framing team.

The leader of the larger team and company responsible for the project told a quick story.

“My former partner used to say ‘this is framing, not finish carpentry’. I would remind him that if I did a crappy job framing, I’d end up spending more time messing around trying to fix things when I installed the finish trim, cabinets and doors.”

Everyone nodded in agreement.

The framing team agreed and spoke of how important it was to get this step done well.

I found it interesting, that once complete, no one will see the Meticulous Framing.

This Meticulous Framing is not glamorous: other things that sit on top will ultimately get all the credit for how this home looks.

This Meticulous Framing will be hidden from view, seemingly forever, or until someone makes a drastic change.

This Meticulous Framing will set the stage for the next several decades.

This Meticulous Framing may take a few extra days, but may save weeks later on.

The leader tells this story in the larger context.

“I like to say what you do in one part of your life is pretty likely to show up in other parts of your life…”

Couldn’t we use Meticulous Framing when building relationships?

Couldn’t we use Meticulous Framing when building businesses?

Couldn’t we use Meticulous Framing when doing creating stuff?

The next time you build something, ask your self:

“Am I building this in a way that will last, or will I be spending a lot of time messing around trying to fix things?”

Maybe Meticulous Framing is exactly what we need, so what we build will last.

Build Up or Tear Down?

Stones on the Beach

I have a habit of making cairns, especially when we spend time on the rocky coast of Maine. There is a challenge to find the right stones that will fit together, balance against the wind, and rise up to leave their mark on the landscape. These reminders provide some sense of identity along the somewhat anonymous coast that someone stood on that spot and created.

When creating in this space, one must acknowledge that eventually the pounding surf will remove all evidence of your work. The never-ending cycle of water will topple any temporary reminder of any creation, but something compels us to create near the ocean despite the inevitable. Something about letting the ocean reclaim these stones seems appropriate.

After creating these three cairns the other day, we walked further up the coast to another small beach and passed a couple with a child. We did the obligatory head nod and smile as we passed and eventually we turned around and headed back past our creation. To my surprise, we saw the couple and child again, at the site of our creation. Instead of admiring our work, they were standing at the path and throwing rocks to topple the cairns.

They must have seen it in my face when I gazed upon their actions and they spoke first.

Did you create these?

Yes.

There was an awkward pause. Stones in hand, they looked at me as if they had done something wrong and were waiting for some clue from me on how to proceed. It was a struggle to fight my initial instinct to be angry or upset at them. I did not own the stones, the ocean, or the coast. My creation was temporary and the changing tides would return these stones to their rightful home within a few hours anyway, but the rush of emotion was still present. I knew I had to say something.

It is totally okay. Some people build up, and others tear down.

I smiled. Eventually they smiled too and restarted their stone throwing and we moved on.

When you build something, however temporary it is hard to watch it used for something else when you knew its original purpose. Change can be hard. What seems like tearing down, may just be a new and innovative use for what you built. But when someone else sees a new use for your creation it can still feel like a loss to you. Perhaps your creation had its run, served its purpose, but its time has passed.

So when someone is changing your creation ask yourself, is it time to build up or tear down?