One of the most rewarding parts of the work I have done over the past 32 years has been the tremendous lessons I have been able to learn from all of you. I’ve often said that I think I’ve learned more from you than you could have ever learned from me. As I contemplate some of those great lessons looking for a great way to share them with you, it might be fun to look at each from the perspective of our old friends the Builder and the Destroyer. A parade of funny, inspiring, determined, hard-working, thoughtful, visionary, and even challenging characters runs through my mind, and here are just a few of the lessons I have learned.
I’ve encountered it too many times to deny this simple fact. Builders expect the best and know no matter what happens it will all work out in the end. Sounds simple, but it is a great way to build a business or relationship or support a family.
Destroyers tend to see what might go wrong or probably won’t work without a second thought. They are prone to knee-jerk reactions that create so many complications they forget what the original problem was in the first place.
Builders grow their companies by building on the foundation of a great mission statement and values, not just as something to do out of a management book but because it is the right thing to do. Through the years, I’ve watched those who have core values that weren’t just talked about at a Christmas party, but they were talked about often, written down, and used to encourage growth.
Destroyers might approach a mission and values in two ways. They might have the mission statement and values but use them against people when convenient, or they might not have them but still expect people to know what the company is all about. Those companies have stumbled through the years and their owners have always been frustrated.
Another thing I’ve learned is that Builders are good at taking action. Whether you are an owner, employee, or part of the management team, the best choice is always to make a decision and move forward with it. The only way to make progress or get positive results is by taking action, now.
If you are still discussing the same things you’ve been discussing for months or if you haven’t built on things discussed in your performance review, beware of the Destroyer approach to your career. Destroyers fool themselves into thinking they will magically succeed. You will not. You will never reach your fullest potential without taking action to do your job and being accountable to the responsibilities you have in your career.
Health matters on two fronts. One of course is that living a healthier lifestyle from exercising to food to a balanced approach to work and life has so many advantages. Also, living a healthy lifestyle exercises our “self-discipline muscle” and Builders can range from the fanatical in nature to those who are committed to their health because it’s just the best thing to do.
What have destroyers taught us? Once again, it comes back to allowing our thoughts to fool us that it is okay to consume things that are not good for us. It is okay that we gained no physical benefit from our activities of the day. Destroyers will always find an excuse or justification.
Another thing that I’ve learned in watching Builders or successful people is they know how to laugh. I think about some great friends who somehow through the intensity of business and challenges of life still keep the desire to smile and laugh. There is nothing more energizing than hearing laughter in a meeting or around a kitchen table. There is nothing more exhilarating than an owner challenging his team to a quarter-mile race at the high school on a Saturday morning and then falling on the ground laughing and trash talking to build camaraderie.
Destroyers do not allow themselves to open their eyes to recognize an unhappy culture, whether it is in their family or business, when it is plagued by sadness and fear and anger, all building anxiety in themselves and those around them
Builders are committed to learning everything they can about whatever it is they are doing, whether it is changing a motor or understanding financials or improving design skills.
We have watched businesses fail to achieve their fullest potential because Destroyers are afraid to recognize they don’t know it all.
Builders know that everything really comes back to the choices that we make each and every day. It’s the small actions that over time have turned into habits that place us in the Builder or Destroyer category. Small choices we have made are impacting our children or our newest employee or that committed employee who has been with you for years. Builder or Destroyer, we all have so many choices that can affect the outcome of our days, weeks, years, and ultimately our lives. The years will show what the days have been.
It’s good to end with one final thing I’ve learned that seems as important as any other. Builder and Destroyer . . . I’ve been on both sides of the lines, as I’m sure everyone reading this newsletter has. We are human, but we can also choose how we will ultimately be known and the legacy we will leave. I choose to follow the lead of all of the great Builders I have known and learn from their examples. I truly feel you have taught me so much more than I have ever taught you! Thanks for all of the great life lessons!
– JIM PALUCH