This weekend I took a drive to Ocean Shores Washington to see my Mom and help her put together a dresser (Some assembly required). When I got there, we decided to just hang out, watch a movie, and relax. The next morning, I got busy with the project, and like any great engineer, I took the step by step approach.
1- Unpack the box and see what I have to work with.
2- Review the directions
3- Start with step one and proceed to put together the dresser.
More steps were added but we’ll get to that in a minute!
The entire project reminded me of so many different things as a business owner!
STEP 1- Take Inventory.
The dresser had a list of materials and as it turns out- everything we needed was in the box. As a business owner, I sometimes have to remind myself to TAKE INVENTORY- what do we already have that we can use to get the job done? This goes for physical materials as well as human capital! Knowing what we have is a great place to begin any project.
STEP 2- Review the Directions.
A quick glance at the directions and I knew a couple of things- 1 the directions were filled with errors and 2- I needed another set of eyeballs on the project. Normally I like to do these kinds of things on my own but it WAS my Mother’s dresser and she sees things differently than I do. Those directions needed some ‘interpretation’. As a business owner, I often skip the directions only to find myself returning for some clarification. My business coach knows all too well how the pattern works! Having guidance does help and being open to seeing other people’s points of view can help you solve any business challenge and it works with dressers too!
STEP 3- Get Busy!
Before we got through steps 1 and 2 of the dresser project, we realized that this project might take ALL DAY! In fact, my Mom was gracious and even tossed out the possibility of completing the dresser over 2 weekends (there were OVER 150 pieces after all!). As a business owner, I recognized the well-meaning trap- the bait that leads to lost pieces and incomplete projects- lots of them! So we agreed to stay focused and get the job done.
I mentioned some extra steps...
STEP 4- Taking personal responsibility
Towards the end of the project, there was an issue- the final pieces were not lining up. At first, I blamed the directions and then I even thought about blaming my Mom (shhhhh). As a business owner, it can be tempting to find fault or blame others but the BEAUTY of owning a challenge is that you are then best positioned to fix it!
STEP 5- Resisting the urge to react.
As the frustration level grew- I could feel my inner 3-year old prepping for a tantrum. So I took a breath and put the little tyrant back to sleep. As a business owner, we definitely reach boiling points where the natural and often expected thing to do is to react to the situation. In those times we find out if all of our reading and growing is paying off and we are also reminded of the importance of continuing to grow and increase our ability to lead. If we are lucky and take the needed time to truly assess the mess- we can often find our way to the fix.
STEP 6- Undoing your mess
As I looked at the dresser I realized that even though the directions were not perfect- ‘someone’ had placed two pieces in the wrong place. I removed them and put them in their correct places and GUESS WHAT? The top of the dresser actually fit where it was supposed to be and the decorative kicker plate at the bottom also fit!! As a business owner, I find that when I take responsibility for my part of the mess- the pieces go back together fairly quickly.
My Mom and I finished what we started and used the same valuable steps we use each day as business owners and just 4 hours later- she had her dresser!
2-Review the Directions
3-Get to Work
4-Take Personal Responsibility
5-Resist the Urge to React
6- Undo Your Messes
There are so many amazing examples of how real-life can help us fine-tune our business leadership skills!
Oh- and from now on my Mother is only purchasing PRE-ASSEMBLED furniture!!