Full Contact Project Management
Baby Bottle Leadership
We too often take things for granted: our family, friends, town, associates, business, and even our country. It’s the July 4th as I write this column for the August issue of Masonry, and it makes me think about what I have been given. Of course, it all comes from the generosity and vision of those who came before me.
But the heat of summer is here, and that can be trying for all of us out in the field. And, I am reminded of those trials as I look at something right next to my laptop: a baby bottle filled with coins.
Not far from my home is the town of Fallbrook, Calif., which has a pregnancy resource center. Its mission is to help women with their kids, from teenage girls to middle-aged moms. The center is not unique, but the only baby bottle next to my computer is from this particular resource center. This center uses a baby bottle as a symbol, and helps with everything from medical concerns to providing struggling, low-income families with clothes and baby furniture. But each mom has to earn these items by taking some free classes. Each video class is worth points that a mom can redeem for a baby crib or clothes for her child. So, what was once a free gift, now has more value to the family, because Mom has earned it.
Education is huge with this group, as it is for the vast majority of organizations, some with which you may be involved. If you look at my baby bottle, it is chock-full of coins: everything from pennies to quarters. My loose change goes into it, and then I turn it in as a donation. Unfortunately, there are too many pennies and not enough quarters in my baby bottle, but they all go into the mix of helping something worthwhile. It’s the whole idea of “many hands make for light work.”
MCAA is something akin to my baby bottle. We have sole proprietors with no employees as well as major construction companies with hundreds. These are pennies and quarters, all in the same proverbial baby bottle. Everybody is lending a hand, all are doing what they can, educating our people so that we have the best-trained craftsmen available in the industry, capable of finishing jobs on time and on budget. This training often is difficult for a small company to achieve on its own, yet, it comes with membership. We don’t confer titles upon our people. They earn them as they learn them.
We sometimes forget about another function of MCAA: meeting the challenge of educating our marketplace to the advantages our industry offers: sustainability, efficiency and durability. Add your own favorites to that mix. But the fact is, even an extremely large masonry company would find it almost impossible to get out that message to its market. Right or wrong, architects and engineers, facility buyers, and city and state officials are often hard pressed to take the cheapest, present alternative, not the one with the greatest long-term value. Training and lobbying both come from the same MCAA baby bottle.
The little pregnancy resource center in Fallbrook has trials every day. Many are small; some are larger than life. Your business, family and town have daily trials. Most get resolved quickly, but a few can become serious and have long-term consequences. This is why we associate with other business people, network with neighbors, struggle together for a common good, and find solutions to our problems.
On Jan. 1, I didn’t come up with any resolutions for this year. However, from this August, onward, how about all of us agreeing upon a simple one: “I will have gratitude for what I have been given, because I’ve also been given the ability to join with others and overcome my trials.”
The heat of summer may go on for many more months yet. My hope is that, come the end of this year, we do see real light at the end of the tunnel. In good times or bad, know that we will get through it. We always have. We are the American building industry. Just keep on putting your pennies and quarters into those baby bottles, and relying upon the leadership that comes from it.