March 9, 2010

Strategies for success from our friend and handyman, Dave

When we bought our house 12 years ago, it came with an unusual amenity––a handyman. On the day of the closing, the owners handed us a bundle of information about the house, including the name and telephone number for the handyman who had done virtually every repair and modification during the time they owned the house. We may have purchased our way into to this relationship, but since that time, Dave has become far more than a handyman to us. He is our friend and a source of continual inspiration. I can’t begin to tell you the number of household riddles and problems he has helped us solve because he pays attention when we do not. From leaky faucets to remodeling projects, we’ve come to depend on his talent, wisdom, and keen awareness to solve some of our stickiest problems.

One day this winter, I called Dave and asked him to come over and help us hang new drapes. He hadn’t been here an hour when he looked across the creek bank about a quarter of a mile away and asked, “Is that a coyote?” I squinted, but I couldn’t see a thing. I ran upstairs and found our binoculars. After a few minutes, we spotted Mr. Coyote under an evergreen tree, taking a nap. “I’ll bet that’s his favorite napping spot,” Dave observed. For the next few days, I watched the spot and discovered that Dave was right. We walk by that window every day but we had never noticed that the coyote arrives about mid-morning and hunkers down for a nap beneath an evergreen on the opposite bank.

This isn’t the first time I have wondered what Dave might know about us because of his acute powers of observation. We asked Dave to help us install some shelving in the basement two summers ago. After evaluating all the choices at Lowe’s and Menards, he was indecisive about what materials we should use. After some deliberation, he finally came back to the house and asked me to ride with him to see what was available. On the way, he rounded the corner at a busy intersection, slowing down and looking intently over my right shoulder. “I’m sorry Crystal, but I’m going to have to stop and figure something out here. I’ve passed this spot three times this morning and I have to know what that big glob of mess is.”

Dave pointed to a golden, abstract object about 20 feet away on my side of the road. In the middle of the street, he turned on his emergency flashers and stopped the truck. He got out and walked downhill toward the object of his curiosity. I saw him tap it gently a few times with the toe of his boot to see if anything about it was alive. Finally, he picked it up and hoisted it up over his head as though it were a hat. He came back to the truck laughing. It was only a can of foam insulation, exploded by the heat of a sunny day, but Dave could not go on with his day until he knew the nature of its origin.

Aside from occasionally wondering how much trouble Dave has gotten into because of his curiosity, I can’t help but marvel at his gift for living in the present moment. Because of that trait, he always seems to have a keen awareness of what’s going on around him and what’s important. When someone in his family has a need, Dave will drop everything to tend that need. Watching how he deals with his family, anyone can see that Dave understands how fleeting life can be. He takes it moment by moment. It seems less as if life is happening to him and more as if he is happening to life. When he is with us, he brings everything he has and everything he knows to that moment. You get the feeling that Dave would die happy if he could just help you resolve your problem. He has nowhere else to go and nothing else to do but help you—unless, of course, one of his kids calls. We’ve grown to admire that trait more with every year that passes.

What a gift! What would happen if all customer service, all business, all jobs or careers, all personal relationships were imbued with this sort of curiosity and awareness? It could be like heaven on earth. Let me share three great titles that could provide similar inspiration for you. I just love all three of these books for the insight they bring to life, business and careers.

How to Achieve A Heaven on Earth: 101 Insightful Essays from the World’s Greatest Thinkers, Leaders, and Writers, edited by John E. Wade

Upstarts: How GenY Entrepreneurs Are Rocking the World of Business and 8 Ways You Can Profit from Their Success, by Donna Fenn

The Risk Takers: 16 Women and Men Share Their Entrepreneurial Strategies for Success, by Renee & Don Martin

1 comment:

donna fenn said...

Crystal, first of all, I'm so happy to hear that you liked Upstarts! Thanks for sharing with your readers. I'm completely envious, since I'd love to have a "Dave" in my life. Beyond a loving family, I do believe that every woman's life would be just about complete with a gay boyfriend and a great handyman!