Carpenters are known for building things. They generally build things out of wood. One of the processes they play an integral role in is the construction of a house. They are responsible for the framing (walls, floors, trusses) and finish work (trim, cabinets, doors, molding). Good carpenters are worth their weight in gold.
Community leaders build things too. They prefer to build programs and projects using people as the material of choice. They are community carpenters. These people are invaluable. Let us dive into six lessons we can learn from carpenters and how to apply them to building great communities.
Community Carpenters Carry Out the Vision of Others
When building something, a carpenter follows a blueprint. In most cases the blueprint was designed by others. In the case of a house, an architect designed the drawings. The carpenter follows those plans to carry out the vision of the designer. They make the architect’s vision a reality.
We commonly talk about the need to have vision as a leader. That is important. We all need to have vision, but there are times we must carry out the vision of others. As community leaders, we are in the trenches carrying out the vision of boards of educations, city councils, boards of directors, management teams, and other groups. They need community carpenters like you to make their vision a reality.
Community Carpenters Measure Twice, Cut Once
There is an old adage in the carpentry world. Measure twice, cut once. A board cut six inches too short does not fill the gap and it will not grow back. There are a lot of things that demand our immediate attention and a quick response, but this adage should apply to our decision making at the local level. Think through the potential impacts, consequences, and outcomes first, then think through them again. Then make a quality decision.
Community Carpenters Do Not Take Short Cuts
When a deadline is staring you in the face, it is tempting to take short cuts. We have all been at this intersection a time or two. When we choose to take the short cut, the deadline may get met and the project may get completed. Here is the problem with shortcuts. Someone pays for them later. If a carpenter takes a short cut during the construction process, the problem may not show itself for years to come. The builder will be out of the picture and the homeowner must pay.
As community leaders we do not want to take short cuts. When we do, you or someone else pays later. In our worlds it could be a student that passes now, but fails later. It could be a short-sighted financial decision in local government that leads to a revenue shortfall later. A business owner that makes a knee jerk reaction to cut positions to save a quick dollar, then does not have the people to serve their remaining clients well. A coach that decides to focus all resources on winning the first game rather than winning the last one by building the fundamentals. Short cuts rarely, if ever pay off. Do not take them.
Community Carpenters Fix Things
Carpenters build things, but they are also called upon to fix things too. Every community has something that is broken. It could be a team, program, system, equipment, or infrastructure. When a good community leader sees something that is broken, they want to fix it. They are burdened. Every great solution to something broken in a community started with one person’s burden.
A leader who serves their community well wants to see struggling children get an education, wants to see their citizens proud of where they call home, wants to see their church serve well in the community, wants to provide food for the hungry, and wants to leave people better than where they found them. Community carpenters fix things. They refuse to let something or someone remain broken.
Community Carpenters Work Hard
Carpentry can be back breaking work. A long day of manual labor can flat wear you out. Especially the older you get! My carpentry skills are decent. Whenever I finish building something, I always take a moment at the end to sit back and celebrate the progress. It is such a great feeling to see something go from nothing to something or from broken to fixed. We pour our lives into what we do as community leaders. We make a positive impact. Make sure to take some time at the end of the day to enjoy your progress. Your hard work deserves it.
Community Carpenters Build on Solid Foundations
You can be the best carpenter in the world, but if the foundation crew did a poor job, it can negate your work. The foundation is the most critical phase of any construction project. If it is not solid, the rest of the structure is worthless. The foundation is more than just pouring concrete. The soil below the foundation has to be compacted property and the rebar has to be installed per the blueprint. Then, the concrete has to be mixed right and once poured, it has to rest a period of time before anything can be put on top of it. When all of this is done right, the foundation will be solid.
If we are to lead well in our communities, our foundations must be solid as well. We need to have solid character. We need to be the same person when no one is looking as we are when everyone is looking. We must invest in ourselves. We need to read, listen to podcasts, grow in our faith, spend time with those people who make us better, and ultimately build ourselves. If your foundation is solid, you will serve your community well.
Carpentry is a craft. So is community leadership. Community carpenters build great communities. There are things and people in all of our communities that need to be built, fixed, or maybe even remodeled. Use the tools that you have been given to get to work! Grab your toolbelt. Get started!
Ordinary to Extraordinary Intersection
How well are you carrying out the vision of others? Are you measuring enough times before you move forward on a decision? Are you avoiding the temptation of shortcuts? What burdens you to fix in your community? Are you taking the time to celebrate your progress? How solid is your foundation?
If you missed last week’s blog Organizational Depth, check it out here.