Leadership and Main

Bettering Others and the World You Live In

Tearing It Down

Tearing it down is easier than building things up.  The process of tearing things down requires demolition, destruction, and ultimate disposal into a barren wasteland.  Building things up requires patience, planning, and execution. 

The Tree House

This past weekend we tore down the tree house I built for the kids about twelve years ago.  It was a labor of love constructed for Ashtyn and Grant to create memories in and build life-long friendships in.  From concept to completion, the project took about four months. 

It started with a pencil sketch on a scratch sheet of paper developed from some solid guidance from my Paw Paw The tree house was complete with a rock-climbing wall, slide, climbing net, and a pulley system to raise and lower objects.  The project consumed many weekends and late evenings after work. 

I had my share of bumps, bruises, and setbacks along the way.  Things didn’t always go as planned.  But…ultimately the project fulfilled its purpose.  The kids and their friends used it for years to come, creating everlasting memories together. 

Now, Grant is fourteen and Ashtyn is sixteen.  The tree house wasn’t quite getting the use it once did.  Sadly, it was time to take it down. 

The process of tearing the tree house down was certainly easier than the process of building it.  Is the same true for leadership?  Let’s wrestle with three thoughts and see:

Building It

Just like the tree house, building a team and an organization is not for the faint of heart.  It too requires patience, planning, and execution.  Leadership comes with its fair share of bumps, bruises, and setbacks as well.  The process reveals our resiliency, the ability to bounce back quickly.  It challenges our perseverance, the ability to keep putting one foot in front of the other despite the circumstances.

The great part about building something special is the day you can sit back and admire the finished project.  The vision moving from concept to completion.  That moment when all the hard work, dedication, and commitment to the process bears fruit.    

Tearing It Down

It took me four months to build the tree house, it took one day to tear it down.  With the help of a drill gun, chainsaw, and three in-house laborers, we were able to demolish it and load it in the dumpster piece by piece.  The whole structure tucked neatly into a 15 cubic yard dump tailer.   

There was plenty of risk involved.  We only had the dumpster for three days.  It was day two and a half!  It needed to come down quickly.  With that, there was certainly risk of severe injury.  One wrong cut, and the whole thing could have come toppling down on me and/or one of my valued laborers. 
There are times in leadership when things may need to be torn down.  The situation may not always demand something so drastic, but it is always an option.

On the other hand, tearing things down in leadership comes with its own safety hazards.  There is always risk of injury to those we lead and the culture we desire to create if we are not careful in the process.  Whether it’s warranted or not, speed is not anyone’s friend in tearing things down.

Leave It Be

One of the in-house laborers, Ashtyn, and I were having a conversation on the way home the other night.  She asked me what I was writing about this week.  I told her about the concept of “tearing it down” and how it applied to the tree house. 

She reminded me that we did have a third option, it was to do nothing at all.  It would have saved her some manual labor! 

In leadership, leaving things be isn’t really a strategy.  Organizations are either growing or dying, there isn’t much in between.  Leaders are the same, we choose growth or we choose death. 

The middle ground of leaving it be is complacency.  It’s when we begin to coast as a leader.  And when we coast, it’s always downhill! 

As I was evaluating how to tear the tree house down, I noticed some decay in the wood.  It was from neglect, failure to maintain.  Year by year of leaving it be would have led to further deterioration of the structure.  The same happens in leadership when we just let things be. 


Three options, only one viable though.  Letting it be just doesn’t work.  Tearing it down is easier, but here is the reality…you still have to build it back up regardless.  Therefore, building it is always better than tearing it down. 

Plus, the further you go in leadership, the more You Can Count on Critics to try to tear you down.  They lurk around every level of our growth.  Waiting to pounce, full of distraction and discouragement.  Builders have no time for Haters.    

Our Chief of Police Jesse Evans frequently says, “Leaders build leaders.”  Nothing could be further from the truth.  With that said…get to building!     

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