Word: Brandon Hartsell
Work-life balance…. Sounds like something we could easily write about, right? As I sit down to put this article together, we are coming back from the Memorial holiday weekend. I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect backdrop to be the foundation for this article. Evenings and weekends are the balance to this masonry scale we overload each day. Please don’t get me wrong, I love this business and the industry as a whole. But it will make you old, quickly if you don’t strive to have a work/life balance.
To begin with, my son, whom I have talked about previously, turns 13 in two weeks. He is an exact copy of myself 27 long years ago. I remember the day “Shorty,” as I have nicknamed him, was born. Sidenote, no idea why I call him “Shorty,” as he is the same height as I am. He is my friend and a good little buddy. Over the weekend, I watched him as he worked around the house. He is a big boy now, a young man. Where did the time go?
Have I helped to lead him the best I could? He is coming of age and for the past few years has taken a liking to many of the same things I enjoy. Lawn work, outdoor living & construction, golf, keeping a vehicle super clean, and working on our pool, aside from knowing almost every “brick bond” there is. He is a smart young man who is very respectful of his surroundings. He keeps me grounded, and is one of the reasons work/life balance is important.
Now, on the other hand, I have a “Little Princess” who is eight going on 21. She loves unconditionally and judges no one. She is consistently the one child in her class at school who is always paired with new students or those who may need a little more help just getting through the day. Last year, she simply held another child’s hand to help keep him calm during the day. She is a ray of sunshine and does her best to extend those rays to everyone she knows. If she breaks into “This Little Light of Mine, I’m Gonna Let It Shine,” it will bring a tear to your eye. I don’t think there is anyone who loves their “Jesus” more than this little girl. She will brighten the gloomiest of days. Both my children help me to see the positives of maintaining a healthy work/life balance. I am better when my professional life is well managed with issues kept to a minimum and this overflows into our home.
Next, I am big on outdoor living and lawn maintenance. Nothing makes me happier than to cut my Bermuda grass on the weekends. If we aren’t at fairway perfection, then we better work harder to achieve it! I absolutely love it. I am also a big fan of outdoor living. From picture-perfect patios to massive wood-burning fireplaces, I thoroughly enjoy it all. Of course, it is super hard work, but it keeps you balanced. Nothing makes me appreciate my office more than coming in on a Monday with worn-out hands, creaky joints, and hurting muscles. I also don’t think there is anything more relaxing than sitting down after a hard day of work and admiring what you have created. Obviously, there is nothing harder than getting up after sitting either!
You’re probably thinking, this is getting boring. Hang on, we are going to finish strong with promoting the industry! Here we go, let’s reflect. I “love” my job, and I will give as much as feasibly possible to Gates Construction Company every day. But I also enjoy attending the trade shows, World of Concrete, NCMCA Convention, and various other state and local events. These requirements are part of the decisions I have made. I love seeing all the folks on the state and national levels who make the industry move forward. Many are mentors. Some are mentors and don’t even know it.
The industry is challenging at times, but very fulfilling at the end of the day. Honestly, we haven’t done anything since Vegas with our state association, but we have incorporated Zoom as a means of communication within our local Metrolina Chapter of the NCMCA. It has worked well, but nothing like seeing each other face to face. I tell people this all the time, “It isn’t about me and it isn’t about how much promoting I do, but it is the idea of spreading even a small ray of light about this trade to the next generation.”
There are the balance folks. We can work all day and deal with the oddest of odds, but if we don’t take care of providing a strong industry for tomorrow, we are failing with the work/life balance which we all strive for. I put the next paragraph at the end of every article I write. Make sure you read it. Make sure you live it. If we are serious about balancing this industry and promoting it to the next generation, then we honestly should all memorize it.
We all need to remember, the “future” of our industry lies within the minds and hands of the next generation. It is “our” responsibility to make sure we develop and promote the next generation. We must take the time to visit schools, attend trade events, and make ourselves available for the next generation. I believe we need to develop lasting relationships with younger people, encourage their new ideas, and educate the leaders of tomorrow. In this way, the masonry industry will be as solid as the products we promote. I hope you will join us! We all need to continue our strong efforts to ensure this industry is passed forward to the next generation of company leaders and craftsmen, who will, in turn, pass it on for generations to come.
In closing, I do want to reemphasize a few keynotes: love your family with everything you have, give yourself 100% to your wife and children, and be “home” when home. If you keep your professional life well-managed with issues kept to a minimum, the balance will overflow into your home. You must practice this and live it. It is not a one day deal; it is a lifestyle. Secondly, find something you enjoy and do it. Whether it be outdoor living, livestock, drones, fishing, etc., go out and do it, and engulf yourself in it. Do it well and succeed at it. Finally, we all need to continue our strong efforts to ensure this industry is passed forward to the next generation of company leaders and craftsmen, who will, in turn, pass it on for generations to come.
Brandon Hartsell is a Project Manager with Gates Construction Company, Inc. (Mooresville, NC). He is Chairman of the MCAA South 40, Central Region Vice President of the North Carolina Masonry Contractors Association and President of the Local NCMCA Metrolina Chapter. Brandon lives in the Charlotte Area with his Wife (Meredith) and their Two Children (Braxton & Mckinley). He is the Third Generation in his family to be involved in the Masonry Industry. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 704-310-1674.