“Our focus must always be on building people up.” – Dan Davis
Don’t Cut Corners
One indispensable decision a builder must make is material selection. Several factors dictate this undertaking:
- Durability and strength
- Cost and availability
- Aesthetic Value
We can group these factors for choosing materials into sustainability and efficiency. What do these two categories have in common? Quality, a term that ensures safety of the building occupants but also protects the integrity and reputation of the respective builder. Intended to save time and money, low quality materials, which often come at a cheap price, have proven to be deadly. In June 2017, a fire in Grenfell Tower, UK claimed 72 lives and damages estimated at over $280 million. What was the main culprit of the fire? Cheap, combustible building cladding. Eventually every corner cut, regardless of reason or season, incurs a much higher cost we pay later.
As you posit your life as a builder of others, the materials you pick are crucial if your desire and delight is adding value to them. We build others in proportion to building ourselves. Your mind is perhaps the most critical building site in your life. Marilynne Robinson said, “You build your mind, so make it into something you want to live with.” I have observed successful people, and I have come to this realization, the quality of your thoughts equal the quality of your life. The good news is that the mind is not fixed but moldable. The bad news is that what we choose to allow into our minds on a consistent basis will form our lives. Toxic thoughts to the mind are like mold to a building, while healthy thoughts are comparable to the fixtures that give a building value.
In order to arrive at a mind worth living with, we must understand the benefits so as to see its importance. In an Inc. magazine segment entrepreneur and author Andrew Thomas stated:
“… a strong mindset is more than simply refusing to quit. True strength of mind comes from a combination of awareness, focus and resiliency. A strong mindset is what allows you to stay focused on your intentions, instead of negative thoughts. It’s what helps you understand that struggle is impermanent and won’t derail your success. It keeps you from making self-destructive decisions.”
As we cultivate a healthy mind that culminates in mental strength, our ability to supply quality materials that builds others through decisions, influence, values, and habits grows. Let’s dissect these materials today:
Do you ever wish you had more information before making a decision? Me too! I always wonder, “What else do I need to know?” Such inquiries lead to delayed decision making when in reality no amount of information is ever enough to make a decision. Quantity of information does not necessarily determine the quality of a decision. So what does? Asking better questions. The quality of your decisions is tied to your ability to consistently ask good or great questions. Instead of looking for more information, I am learning to ask better questions. Why should quality decision making be a focal point in life? Your decisions not only set the course for your life but they also impact the lives of others. Awareness of this is not to add pressure in decision making, but to remind us that our lives are interlaced. Considering another person’s well being is a key to better decisions. The question I am learning to ask is, “How will this decision affect ___________(name of person)?”
You are influential! Why do you need to know this? Influence is the ability to trigger action whether by words or by example. Most of us associate influence with position rather than people. I believe everyone has influence. Both the CEO of the Fortune 500 company and the stay at home mum or dad wield a ton of influence. The captain of the team and the five year old child with a younger sibling have influence. Your presence in your sphere of responsibility creates the possibility for you to be an influence on someone. There are people who use their influence positively, while others use it negatively. The currency of influence is yours to determine which way you will use it in the lives of others, and your choice is directly tied to your values.
Values strengthen our influence and bring clarity to who we are and what we view as important in life. They keep us centered or grounded. Without values we are like a building with no foundation. Eventually we will crumble. I believe that values are crucial in building others because they connect us where racism, gender, economic and social classes cause division. When we act on the shared values that create bridges instead of barriers we engage in the beautiful work of building each other. What values do you hold that help shape your habits and build others up?
When considering the impact of habits, Australian actor F.M. Alexander said; “People don’t decide their futures, they decide their habits, and their habits decide their futures.” Developing quality habits is like the builder who selects quality materials for a construction project. Habits not only build us, but they become the rivets that others adopt to build their futures. What habits can you begin to adopt that will make your life a model for others to build their lives?
Final Thought: Just as there are no substitutes for quality construction materials, there should be no compromise when it comes to our decisions, influence, values, and habits. For where compromises are made, cracks begin to form in our lives and subsequently, our ability to build in others the type of quality that can stand the test of time suffers. The cost of cheap building materials is grave. So is the cost of building lives on faulty character traits. Let’s build well.
Keep on keeping on!