Working On It! The Remodeler as Entrepreneur.

When it gets steamy on the homefront.

Just in case you have been reading these columns of mine, and you might have come to the conclusion that I live in a different world than you do, I thought this time I would prove to you that we live in the very same world, and that it does get steamy on the homefront.

Meaning, life can be a troublesome when you run a business, or even worse, when your business runs you. That’s when I’ve found most often that working on it becomes impossible to do.

Thinking strategically becomes warped by thinking of everything you’ve got to get done. Especially when everything you’ve got to get done appears to be hopelessly broken, hopelessly out of whack, hopelessly confusing, hopelessly inconsiderate, and hopelessly unkind.

When everything inside your business gets steamier than everything outside of your business, it seems like everybody wants to run.


When everybody wants to run, it means they run away from the estimate, which never should have been proposed because it never could have been done.

Away from the time table, which isn’t a table at all, but a sinkhole which has no bottom.

Away from the anger Jerry’s got (or whatever his name is) because, for whatever reason you said or did what you’ve done, he feels like a lump of coal, a bad idea, a dismal performer of stuff he was acclaimed for just yesterday.

Away from the confusion, the chaos, the client who seemed to get out of bed with a bent nose, blaming you for being who you’re being, blaming them for being them, blaming the house for being stupid, blaming the kids for needing lunch.

Away from all the bad decisions, away from all the struggles within, away from the news which isn’t news but more of the same, away from an economy which isn’t an economy but a bad joke told by a bad comedian who doesn’t do stand up, but instead lies down, and for the life of you, isn’t funny, never was, and by the way, how did we get to $17 trillion in bad debt?

Does any of this make sense to you yet, Bunky (or whatever your name is), does it?


Yes, the business of business is guessing. Guessing what you decided to do when you opened your doors.

Guessing what it takes to make people happy, what it takes to keep people from running away, what it takes to make a decent living, what it takes to keep a job on track, when you know, deep down, deep, deep down, it isn’t.

The business of business is guessing, and the business of guessing is the steamiest proposition around. Because when we guess about all of it, we end up with all of it not making a lot of sense.

Which is, as I said earlier, when «steamy on the homefront» not only makes it improbable that you can pull your wits about you, but impossible to do the clarifying work that takes leadership, takes understanding, takes balance, and deliberation, takes the stunningly difficult ability to express yourself as though you’re sane, as though you’re reasonable, as though you’re competent, as though you know the answers you have always pretended to know when, deep down, yes, deep, deep down, you know you don’t even know the questions.

Which is why I say the business of business is guessing. Because I’ve been where you are. Because I’ve been inside of a remodeler’s Waterloo, when the challenge of the day isn’t of the day, but for all time. Which then asks us what?


So, here’s the trick. Here’s what I wanted to say, when I started this little voyage of mine.

When the ship feels like it’s sinking. When the day feels like a falling rock. When the end of the game feels like the beginning. When the troubles are no longer the troubles but chicken stock. Chicken stock?! Well, give me your forbearance, and listen to the end of this tale.

That taking notice means stopping. Right there, where you stand in your tracks. Taking notice means getting off the escalator, the elevator, the trap you’re confined by, the circumstances which got you by the neck. Yes, just stop. Don’t take one more step forward. Just stop.

The most important experience I have ever had was when a teacher of mine said to me, «Michael, look at me. Don’t look away. Look at me. Take one breath. Stop, right now.» As he said that to me, he stopped as well. He looked me dead in the eye, and didn’t flinch one iota. He stood as still as a pillar, and said it once again, «Stop.» And I did. Everything else stopped right then. Everything. My thoughts, imagination, fears, opinions. And then he said, «Welcome home.»

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