I know people who love to work in their gardens.  Weekend mornings they awake early so they will have an entire day to plant, pull weeds, edge and mow.  I admire them and envy their beautiful yards.

I truly dislike gardening; I would rather get a root canal without Novocain than spend a day pulling weeds in the hot Florida sun.  I come by my distastes for yard work naturally since, to my memory, my father never pushed a lawn mower, pulled a weed or planted a flower.  It took me years to realize that one of the reasons he opened his office on Saturdays was to avoid having to work in the yard.

As much as I try to avoid working in the yard, I like the results, so I force myself do so.  My pet peeve is pulling weeds.  With eight flowerbeds along with the planting areas around our home, I pull weeds everyday.  I am convinced that I am one of the great weed growers in the world.  I mean, you have to have a talent to grow that many wild plants.  So, you can imagine what I returned to after a two-week vacation during which no weeds were pulled.

I pulled weeds until my hands cramped.  Over a two-day period I emptied four-wheel barrow loads of weeds.  We had tall weeds, short weeds, flowering weeds, poisonous weeds, stinky weeds and sweet smelling weeds.  I found obnoxious plants that had learned to grow among our rose bushes where thorns made for painful extractions.  Perhaps the most annoying areas to clear were those where last spring my wife Terri decided we should plant wild flower seeds.  No, we didn’t grow wildflowers in May, but we did grow an exceptional crop of weeds in September.

Like weeds, when not timely addressed, problems can become overwhelming.  It’s easier to undertake the uncomplicated  tasks than to deal with the difficult ones.  However, like weeds, problems don’t go away they just grow larger.  When not handled, small situations sometimes become major crises.

As much as my dad hated gardening, he hated confrontation even more.  However, rather than avoiding confrontation, he met it immediately and head on.  If a customer had a problem with our work, we addressed the concern immediately; if we couldn’t be where we promised to be, we promptly notified our client; if a contractor didn’t make an agreed payment we stopped work.  My father didn’t and wouldn’t let those who worked for him put off handling difficult issues.  That doesn’t mean he made precipitous decisions: he would gather the facts, confer with those involved and then come to a conclusion.  But he wouldn’t allow issues to be pushed aside and fester.

My Dad’s willingness to face challenges provided a benefit that I didn’t recognize until after he was gone.  By doing so, by not putting things off, he was consistent in his response to situations.  People knew that he wasn’t going to allow things “to just go.”  Customers knew that he would be on top of any problem that might occur on their job; and employees knew that he was going to address their shortcomings.  That consistency resulted in a stellar reputation as both a contractor and employer.


The best way to escape from a problem is to solve it.” – Alan Saporta

It is in the ordinary events of every day that we develop the proactive capacity to handle the extraordinary pressures of life. It’s how we make and keep commitments, how we handle a traffic jam, how we respond to an irate customer or disobedient child. It’s how we view our problems and where we focus our energies.” – Stephen Covey, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, 1989

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