Clean Slate

Home improvement is a constant in my life. From painting to pulling carpet to building a tree-house for my kids there isn’t quite anything like cleaning up something that is old and making it gleam like new again. Today our task is to strip the eaves of paint, sand them to a smooth finish and repaint them so the wood will be protected and the house will look nicer. The color is chosen by my wife to create the look for the house that she thinks would be best and we work together to set the stage for the whole house transformation. 

I started this project over a week ago and started sanding the old paint expecting that would be enough to set the stage for a good fresh coat of paint. However, my sanding wasn’t enough to overcome the years of neglect that the previous owner subjected our home to. I kept going, but only a few days after I completed the task more paint was chipping off again. I couldn’t think of another way to do it, nor did I want to reinvent the process. I had a friend’s son coming to help and I showed him what I was doing. When I came home he had totally stripped all paint from the wood, cleanly and without damaging the wood. I couldn’t believe it, he had accomplished more and done it better than I had done even though he was younger and has far less life experience. He came at the problem with a fresh set of eyes and developed a better process to complete the task.

Years ago my wife and I came to an agreement that we would both assume that the other one was doing their best at whatever it was. This came after a couple of years with kids and a good bit of animosity about a variety of issues from keeping the house clean to watching our daughter. Without the basic operating principle that we are each doing our best, we were constantly feeling anger toward the other partner’s lethargy. In reality, we were both working hard, the most damage was caused not by our work ethics, but our perception of the situation. We gave each other a clean slate, changed our fundamental belief and built a new, stronger relationship from that point on.

Sometimes our pride can get in the way and we can’t admit that others have better ideas, that others work differently from ourselves. We word things poorly in the instructions or maybe we just can’t quite see the best way to accomplish the task. Are you one of those people who gives someone a task to do and then watches step by step to make sure they do it your way? If so, is it even remotely possible that they may have a better way to do it? The only way to know is to give them the task and let them do it! We have to trust that our friends and family are doing their best…no matter what we think we know about them, we really don’t know what they struggle with. Trust that your friends, family and co-workers are doing their best. Communicate your feelings openly when you think that may not be the case. You’ll find less stress in your life, less animosity toward your fellow human beings and the beauty in others as you see them transform into what they were meant to be.

About Hiram

Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world's great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. Norman Maclean, A River Runs Through It and Other Stories
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2 Responses to Clean Slate

  1. Becky says:

    Yes – doing things differently from the way “I” do them doesn’t mean it’s wrong. It’s maybe just different.

    • Hiram says:

      Certainly I have my own way of doing things and until the last couple of years, I’ve struggled to allow others to do things their way. I continue to work on it…and the process of watching people take flight when you give them the freedom to do it their way has been VERY cool! Thanks for checking out my blog!

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