“One measure of your success will be the degree to which you build up others… . While building up others, you will build yourself.” –James E. Casey
The Key of Location
In real estate, the tagline location, location, location conveys the importance of not just what but where to build. Neglecting this important facet of building, a beautiful structure can remain unused for years because no one took into consideration the location. The price and size of a structure are subject to change, but the location is largely permanent. I believe location has to do with what we envision for the future. Not carrying a future-based mindset when considering a potential location can be disastrous to any building project.
When we build in life, we must carry a future based-mindset based on value. In addition to purpose and a reason for living, I believe everyone is born with inherent value and limitless potential. This fact is the key to understanding that anyone is worth the same, if not greater care and attention a builder applies to construct strong and aesthetically pleasing structures. If we view people around us as valuable, their race, ethnicity, political views, or economic status will not create barriers. Instead we will look past the surface and see their true value, just as a builder sees a piece of land and envisions what it could become.
We all have locations in life that we can turn into building sites or demolition zones. I do agree that in certain circumstances, a demolition must precede construction. To build better relationships racially, we must first deconstruct old thought patterns that have caused the ravaging of society through discrimination. To build economically, we also must demolish gaps that exist between classes of people. Demolition is only valuable to the degree that better structures are erected in place. Awareness of our sites or spheres of responsibility leads us to become better builders. This awareness was first taught to me by my mother in my childhood and youth.
Built at Home
My mother is a natural builder. Each day she exemplified the characteristics of a builder. First, she knew how to spot extractable value in us. I recall her volunteering me to act in plays that were circulated around the University where we lived. I had no idea I could act, but with my mum’s advocacy, I realized a gift I didn’t know I had that added value to many. I also learned how to cook from her. She built this skill in me by handing me small responsibilities like grinding beef into minced meat and cutting onions, peppers, and tomatoes, all necessary materials or ingredients that go into building a scrumptious meal. Additionally, each time I went to her office, I noticed, unlike her colleagues who closed their doors, she would keep hers open, communicating that she was always ready to receive and listen to anyone willing to stop by and talk. Lastly, through observation, she built in me the framework for serving others out of a pure and willing heart. Her words and example in our home are riveted in my heart to this day. I hope to emulate her example by locating others I can build, starting in my own home and people I interact with daily.
Who Are You Building?
Pastor and best-selling author of The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren, offers three paramount thoughts or questions that shine like a floodlight on the path to building others:
1.What does this person need? Becoming a builder starts with being a need identifier. From small to big, everyone you meet has a need. Sometimes the need is explicitly expressed, while at other times, you discover it as you listen intently with compassion. The seek to understand before being understood principle found in Franklin Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People has continued to prove useful for me in this area.
2. How can I use what I have to build them up? The next step on the staircase of being a builder is finding the intersection between what you have and what the person needs. This intersection is where you assess your resources to determine how best they can serve the person and meet their needs.
3. What can I say or do to make a difference in their life? Without action, the first two steps lose their potency. My wife has a knack for saying the right words at the opportune time, especially when I need to see things from a better vantage point. Answering this question with words or actions postures you as a bridge for someone to cross from where they are to where they need to be. And for a bridge to be crossed, it should be steady and dependable, not flimsy or shaky. The strength of your bridge grows in proportion to the number of times you apply these questions.
Final thought: Anywhere you find yourself is a potential location to build someone. Who has been placed around you as an opportunity to build? What have you identified in them that makes them worth the care and attention it takes to build? Take time to look around at the different sites of life you frequent. Then apply the three questions and become the bridge that is strong enough to carry people across troubled waters to the place they need to go.