Making Cabinets


“It was easier when I was making cabinets.”

“Why, what was different?”

“At the end of the day, I could see and feel my progress. Now I just deal with people and it is hard to know if I accomplished anything.”

As I reflect on my own work. I can relate.

A lot of what we do is less measurable, less tangible.

It is certainly easier when you make something. It wasn’t there before. You built it. It now exists. You can see it.

Ideas, thoughts, managing, leading are harder to quantify.

But we are still making.

Building ideas.

Crafting thoughts.

Developing people.

Creating and expanding organizations.

“Maybe it would be easier to ask yourself a simple question at the end of the day: What Cabinets Did I Make Today?”

“What do you mean?”

“Think about your work now in terms of cabinets because that is where you started. Take your interactions with customers, sales gained, estimates written, and turn then into cabinets.”

“You are a little weird.”

“Yeah I know, but keep tracking. This will tie your current work to the familiar and fulfilling work that you keep longing to do again.”

“I can try. So when I complete four estimates in a day, that may be a cabinet? Instead of not feeling like I am making progress, I can look at that pile of paper, and see a cabinet?”

“Yes, making cabinets out of your current work.”

Maybe that is how we can all calibrate our time, our effort. Think about our work in terms that are familiar and comfortable. A lot of our lives can feel like spinning our wheels instead of Making Cabinets.

What Cabinets are you making?

What [insert your cool creative thing here] have you built today?

Go. Make a difference. Make Cabinets.


Work Life Separation


We get a quick note on the weekend.

“Sorry to bug you about work on a weekend, but I need…”

Or a text late at night.

“Hey, sorry, I know it is late, but can you send along…”

And there was an email early in the morning.

“Sorry, this is last-minute, but can you give us a call right away…”

These requests were simple. They took just a few moments of our time.

We enjoyed being able to respond. It didn’t even feel like work.

There was a time when we thought we needed work life separation.

There was a time when we thought this divide was important.

There was a time when work felt like work.

Over the past few years the work life separation wall has slowly been dismantled.

Brick by brick, the need to be distinct and have boundaries has faded away.

The work life separation wall has become a smeary, messy, blended tapestry.


When our work, and life is about helping others, both happen at interesting hours, times, and moments.

It doesn’t feel like work. It isn’t distinct from our life. It just is.

We live and work at weird hours when there is a need. There are no office hours.

We aren’t counting the days until we retire. We just live.

We live and work in various locations, and at various times.

We meet the needs around us throughout our entire journey.

There is no longer a need for the work life separation.

The absence of that artificial barrier sets us free.


After Injury

As a follow-up to my the post “I am good as possible” it seemed important to share what can happen when we take that risk, try something new, and stretch ourselves.

My Right Knee

(Image Courtesy of My X-Ray, My Youngest Daughter and a Ski Jump)

Injury. It happens to all of us.

In this case, it happened to my right knee. While skiing/trying to catch up with my youngest daughter, I followed her over a jump. Regret arrived almost as quickly as the decision was made, only to be overshadowed by intense pain.

Obviously, it was not a great decision. That split second resulted in numerous bags of ice, pain relievers, doctors visits, x-rays, and some physical therapy.

But, we all sustain injury. Injury may be physical, emotional, or relational. Injury can happen at home, at work, on the slopes, or just about anywhere.

Injury will happen.

Some injury can be prevented, but not all.

During injury, we have to manage the pain, rest, and rebuild.

The choices we make after injury may be the most important.

We may choose to avoid.

We may choose to fear.

We may choose to stop trying.

We may choose to try again, but perhaps with a little more caution/wisdom.

The decisions we make after injury determine if our world becomes a smaller place, with less risk, less adventure.

Keeping our world big after injury is its own risk.

As my leg healed and the pain left, I kept anticipating that the pain would return. My steps were more cautious, and the memory of the pain was almost as real as when it actually hurt.

The other night was my first time chaperoning without skiing. I was not ready to put on those skis, so I modified my role. I encouraged the kids. I made sure they all knew where they were going, and cheered them on.

I have decided to ski next week. I am making the choice to keep my world big, despite the fear and memory of the pain, and possibility of another injury.

Where has injury impacted you?

What choices can you make after injury?

To continue in my role from the other night…

Don’t give up.

You can do it.

Keep your world big.

Get back up.

Get back on those skis.

I still have work to do…

About a month ago, I attended training on a new tool to help match individuals to a job, or to help coach them on a deeper level. This new tool can identify someone’s capacity in various attributes, and how they view the world, understand systems and people. The tool doesn’t stop at the outside world.

This new approach also takes a peek at how you are doing on the inside. Do you understand and balance your various roles, do you see your future as bright or muddled, and are you moving forward or just hanging on.

During the training, the instructor eventually passed out our results throughout the room. My little table of four slowly received the results and each person began flipping through the pages to gain some insight. Somewhat guarded, we all peered at the pages occasionally glancing at the others at the table. Eventually we shared the results.

Despite the individual variation, there was one theme. Each person at the table had a good handle on other people and how to help them (most were consultants or HR professionals), but all of us could use a little work on ourselves. I couldn’t help but feel a little uneasy and my Narrator seemed to try to tell me that unless I get my own act together, I shouldn’t be telling others how to improve.

In the far left corner of the room, there was another consultant. This consultant has been working with individuals and companies for almost 43 years. When speaking or providing insight during the session the room hushed as if everyone in the room wanted to let the words and insight of this wise sage penetrate our minds. It was amazing and intimidating at the same time.

This consultant called me yesterday. Mostly because of my half-joking statement at the end of class when each of us was asked to say what we learned the most during the training.

“I learned that I need to be coached by you” I said speaking directly to that consultant.

It got a laugh, but imagine my surprise during our call. When we were discussing some of the potential areas I may need to develop and work on, I heard the following.

“You know Carl, when I read my own results and report, I realize that I still have work to do.”

It was reassuring that someone who has worked with others almost as long as I have been alive still has work to do and their development journey is far from over.

This conversation reminded me that there are two paths.

One path makes a bold statement.

“I have it all figured out and I will tell you how to make your life, career, job, and world better.”

The second path echoes the simpler statement I heard while on the phone.

“We are on this collective journey together. We still have work to do and if some of the insights we learn help us…great. Let’s see where this takes us.”

I still have work to do, and I look forward to this journey together.