The Advantage Letter by Dave Martin
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Tuesday, September 15, 2020
Volume 26 | # 608
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The wise and foolish are distinguishable by how they get angry. » David Powlison

Staying Grounded

It dawned on me as I reviewed my calendar this week that it has been six months since I’ve flown anywhere.

That hasn’t happened in 25 years. At first, I found reflecting on that to be a bit depressing.

Then, I tried seeing things with a different perspective.

What would I have thought if a visitor from the future would have told me as I boarded a plane in Denver in early March that I wouldn’t fly again for the rest of the year?

Along with that, my busiest year of live presentations was about to be wiped away, as well.

I would have envisioned any number of truly tragic occurrences that would cause that.

At that moment in March, it would have been hard to imagine what it would take to keep me home. But the things that would come to mind are pretty grim.

I’m not downplaying the seriousness of the events that have caused this upside-down year.

They’re not great. I would change them tomorrow if I could.

Yet, they’re not as bad as the things I would have imagined in the scenario described.

Now, I really don’t want to sound as Pollyannish as I know I do when I suggest things could always be worse.

And you need to be careful saying that this year, because 2020 seems willing to continually step up and take that challenge.

However, too many of us become so fixated on the things that have happened outside of our control that we begin forgetting the things that still actually are.

For one, we have the exact same number of hours in the day that we had before.

Most have had activities, both work-related and personal, that have been taken away for a while.

That time didn’t disappear.

What we choose to use it on can be the difference between keeping ourselves engaged and upbeat or indignant and depressed.

Many of us have long had honest intentions of trying new things or improving aspects of our work and personal lives. But we’ve always been just too busy.

“Okay,” said 2020. Poof! Here’s time.

Things were taken away. We didn’t get to vote on those. But other things became possible.

A shock to our system has forced most of us to reflect upon and reevaluate priorities.

Some important things are no longer taken for granted. Other things we once were consumed with have been shown to be rather trivial.

2020 can be your excuse or your catalyst.

You do get a vote on that.

It's Not About the Tools

I was awakened on a recent Saturday by the sounds of a roofing job across the street from our bedroom.

As I listened to the pneumatic gun, I remembered what those jobs used to sound like.

In the old days, there was much more pounding. You’d hear light taps as roofers manually tapped nails to set them, followed by heavy thuds to drive them in.

These days, it sounds more like a Gatling gun power stapler thingamabob.

I reflected on the fact that a task that once took a skilled roofer several minutes to accomplish now takes a few seconds.

After brewing a cup of coffee, my fascination with watching artisans work got the best of me.

And yes, I consider skilled construction workers to be part craftsmen, part artisan, and in the case of roofers - part daredevil.

If I were perched (untethered) 25 feet in the air on an insanely sloped surface, my mind would either be set on survival, finding a new gig, or getting right with my maker. (Okay, probably all three.)

But these folks move around these perilous settings seemingly oblivious to danger.

Having spoken to more than a few folks in that line of work before, I learned that it’s not that they are unaware of the danger or are totally fearless.

They are trained, experienced, and prepared.

I was also fascinated by the dichotomy of tools on their jobsite. Modern tools make roofers far more efficient.

Yet, none would dare be on a roof without the foam cushions they rely on to climb steep angles.

When you throw out that old sofa, it’s a fair bet those cushions will end up on a roofing job somewhere. Just saying.

In the end, tools are just that. They’re available to anyone.

However, the best tools in the hands of untalented people are of little use. It’s not the tool that matters as much as the person using it.

Our own banking technology is better than it’s ever been.

It makes a difference, but not as much as the actual bankers using and standing behind it.

Handing a state-of-the-art roofing tool to an unskilled person will not make him or her anyone you’d want near your home.

Likewise, even industry leading digital banking capabilities will not make the wrong person a banker you’d trust your business to.

Some of our tools are new and cutting edge. Some are as old as the industry.

What matters most, however, are the artisans using them. Be an artisan.

Think big thoughts but relish small pleasures. » H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in these columns are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of any affiliated entities or sponsors.
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