Sometimes I need to swing a hammer and create a big mess to clear my mind. What fun!

Sometimes I need to swing a hammer and create a big mess to clear my mind. What fun!

I believe human beings were made to enjoy working hard and building things. Life is work, work is life! That’s one of the reasons I tackle a home remodeling project every winter.

White collar problems

Many of you share my plight – with management/consulting jobs, we don’t really make anything. We produce confidence. In and of itself, that’s satisfying. But after a long week of travel, speaking, facilitating and coaching… I need to swing a hammer, or push a paint brush to clear my mind.

Do seven trips to Home Depot count as remodeling therapy?

Sprint to the finish

My "day job" included a speaking engagement for 150 hospital leaders. Exciting work that did not involve a hammer.

My “day job” included a speaking engagement for 150 hospital leaders. Exciting work that did not involve a hammer.

“I always give him a deadline,” Melinda told our dinner dates. This year the deadline is her Oscars party on February 22. That’s our mid-winter excuse to transform our family room and game room into a chicks-only, red carpet cinema celebration.

So after 19 years of kids and dogs trashing the carpets, we decided to yank up the floors and spread a fresh coat of paint for Oscar. But just like the sweater that unravels when you pull just one stray thread… we also decided to re-wire the office, change out the 1960’s lighting and gut the 1990’s shower. All in one weekend.

It gets worse, before it gets better

"Don't worry," John assured Melinda. We'll have all this done in time for the Oscars.

“Don’t worry,” John assured Melinda. “We’ll have all this done in time for the Oscars.”

All I promised was to get the “messy stuff” done before the new carpet comes.  That means fixing the ceilings, painting two rooms and restoring the use of the toilet, within two weeks. Oh yeah, and I’ll be in California Monday – Wednesday this week. What was I thinking?

With the capable help of Mike and John we created one helluva mess. With hammers, cold chisels, pry bars, jig saws and wire snips in a synchronized rhythm we created a cloud of dust, dirt, mold, grit and sweat. A chorus of grunting, swearing and laughter! (Might have even been some beer involved.)

We always have these tools in the tool box.

Weekend carpenters always have these in the tool box.

At my age, swinging the hammer, getting down on my knees and climbing the ladders isn’t as easy as it used to be. But on Sunday night, we admired our work and acknowledged the obvious: sore muscles and bloody fingers add to the joy of the job. Before bed, I wondered… what will we tackle next year?

Good leaders enjoy working hard and building things. And sometimes they work harder on the weekends than during the week because it clears the mind.

Please share with me: what do you do in the winter to clear your mind?