A Fresh Coat

My wife and I have been fortunate to have lived in the same house since 1991. When we bought it we had been married for just over two years. We stretched quite a bit. It wasn’t a “starter” house but we found the right place at the right time. The family who was selling the house was being transferred to Mexico for work and they had four young kids. The husband was reluctant to sell it to us because we offered less than they were asking but it was as far as we felt we could go and still make house payments . . . and eat.

The wife was awesome !! She told her husband, “We have five days to move to another country with four children and they are the next young couple to get this house. They were like us. Sell it to them.” He did and now 33 years later we’re still here and we’ve grown into the house for sure. We raised our two kids into adults and we’re back to being the couple who owns the house – just a bit older.

As with any house, you always have chances to do projects, updates, remodels and/or repairs. Debbie asked me to paint our garage a little over two years ago and I dragged my feet as long as I could. I knew it would be a massive undertaking because garages are one of the most used areas in a house. We’ve always parked in the garage with our two cars and it houses too many tools and sundry items.

We started clearing out everything and put things out on the driveway. We, of course, found things that had been “lost,” and we also took the opportunity to get rid of items that had not been used for years. Next, came washing 33 years of grime and dirt off the once-white walls. The walls still looked whitish after all of this time. However, the simple action of washing the surfaces with hot water and a rag began the needed transformation. Once the walls were washed, I asked Debbie to help me lay out drop cloths to cover the concrete and asked her to leave me to it.

That isn’t meant to be harsh or dismissive. We know that I do better painting walls and ceilings while she rocks out with more delicate paintings like trim and doors. I turned on my Bluetooth lava lamp (yes, lava lamp) and opened the 5-gallon bucket of glistening white paint. The first coat took hours and hours and hours and hours. I was painting for almost six hours and I was covered from head to toe with splatters. I had hit my limit and even broke down crying because I was so sore. I was overwhelmed and knew the project wasn’t even half complete. My wife was so supportive even though I had lost my cool and snapped at her. (She’s awesome BTW !!)

After getting a late dinner, I apologized and she encouraged me to finish the garage the next day. The second coat went on much more quickly and smoothly. It only took about four hours to finish. The garage looked amazing, and new and it looked like life was breathed back into it. We reorganized the garage’s contents and we had more room than we ever imagined. All it took was attention and a fresh coat of paint.

It sounds like work, doesn’t it? How many places, departments, policies, procedures, etc. are cluttered, old, worn out, and outdated? We could easily take the steps to make them all current and relevant, but we delay and delay because we convince ourselves they still are somewhat effective. We can live with that.

But, should we? The answer is a resounding NO !! We all have the same opportunity I did with painting the garage. Yes, it was hard work that almost broke me, but it was worth it. The garage is still functioning as a garage. It hasn’t changed dramatically. It finally did get my focus and effort. The hours that were at times taxing were worthwhile as an investment. In fact, we probably won’t have to redo it for another thirty years if we are mindful of its appearance.

There is so much wasted space, systems, and time in our roles and throughout our companies. This week, take a deep breath, get some paint, and give everything a fresh coat.

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