Wednesday, February 22, 2012

God's Infinite Design!

The arguement over "Intelligent Design" has always amused me. Evolutionists constantly fight with Creationists over whether or not God created the universe. It's always seemed to me that it takes a lot more faith to believe in a Big Bang that created you and me, as opposed to what they are now calling "Intelligent Design!" Someone once said that the Big Bang takes about as much faith as believing that the local junkyard will, completely unaided, assemble and yield a 747! I mean, do you really buy the story that man really started millions of years ago as a one-celled protoplasm and evolved out of the mud? Wouldn't that have all of us craving Mud Pie?

Last week I was watching a National Geographic show on The Oceans with my granddaughter McCall, and her Momma (my daughter!). We were wowed by the sea life and organisms that scientists were just now discovering. Strange species never before seen! Totally mesmerized, Shelby turned to me and said 'look at all the wonderful variations God has created! Why have we never seen or known about these creatures?' Ahhhhhhh...good question! The best I could offer in response was that humans with finite minds could not begin to comprehend the infinite mind of God! With an infinite mind, the variations are endless!

That got me to thinking about "Intelligent Design" versus "Infinite Design." Intelligent design implies a finite creative ability. Infinite design is - well, infinite! Endless. Timeless. Infinitely creative... Totally beyond our comprehension. Kinda like the universe. A finite mind can't wrap itself around  the idea of Creation, so it justifies our existence through a Big Bang. But where did the gases for the Big Bang come from? 

If we think we have seen all of God's handiwork and stumble across stuff like this, well maybe we haven't seen everything He has to offer! I'm betting on Infinite Design!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Possible Dreams!

Picasso - Photo courtesy of Bill Hurst Photography
In previous posts I have mentioned a whole host of people that have unselfishly given of their time, talents and resources to make "Small Houses of Great Artists" a reality out in the gardens of the Dallas Arboretum. When my business partner, Phillip McCloud - who has done the lion's share of the building, realized that we really  had way too much construction for either his driveway or the rented storage unit, Stan Goodell of Goodell properties in Celina stepped up with free warehouse space! Time and again our vendors and craftsmen (have I mentioned recently that we have the greatest vendors and craftsmen IN THE WORLD?) have come through with incredible products and efforts to help us build something really special for all the kids that visit the Arboretum!
Seurat's House - Courtesy of Bill Hurst Photography
Mona Crider and Company work their magic!

We are nearing completion now and our "thank you" to all who have helped make this possible seems woefully inadaquate! From the lumber yards that chipped in materials (Foxworth-Galbreath; Davis-Hawn Lumber; and Associated Truss); to those who have made it really special (Roof, Tile and Slate donated slate for Seurat House; Beach Sheetmetal donated the beautiful copper roof vent!; Lynn Watkins of Watkins Ornamental Ironworks created the steel support crown for Picasso; and Mona Crider and the talented artists of La Foofaraw that did the artwork), everyone has been so giving - and worked soooo hard! But it really shows.....

How could we forget the guys that came up with the designs in the first place? Robbie Fusch created Monet; Wilson Fuqua dreamed up Picasso; Paul Turney did Seurat; and Clint Pearson took on Georgia O'Keeffe! All marvelous - all extremely well built on a very, very limited budget. Which one's the BEST? You tell me!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Managed Expectations

For a destination wedding, every food station has a theme!
Everyone paints pictures in their mind. We all walk into situations thinking and wondering who will be there; what will they be wearing; am I wearing the right thing; what will he/she say; will the situation meet my expectations? Rarely does anyone just flop into a new scenario without a set of expectations. We all have hopes and desires that we wish will happen. 

Austria in July will be the site of the nuptials. 
I'm in Monroe, Louisiana getting ready to attend my nephews Engagement Party. We expect an incredible soiree -  eighty-three hosts and hostesses will entertain two shifts of probably a thousand guests as we celebrate Mac and Brittney's engagement! But what will it be like? Will the country club be magnificently decorated? Who will be there that I know? On a limited diet, will the food be anything I can eat? Will there be a band and dancing? Is it possible that I will be put in a situation where I will say/do something stupid (like call someone by the wrong name, or forget a spouse's death!)? Any number of expectations surround an event - will we be elated with the outcome, or downright disappointed?

The greater the number of participants in any given event, the less likely you are to be able to satisfy all the attendant expectations. Try though you may to manage all of the expectations of all of the participants, it just "ain't" going to happen! Strong communications with your target audience can improve the odds of success, but still someone is going to be disappointed. 

On a much smaller, yet no less important scale, that is exactly what we are doing when we build someone's home. Our client comes into the process with a set of expectations of what their home is going to look like; how rooms and areas are going to function; what the space is going to do for their family; even how we as Builders are going to perform. Our job is to efficiently communicate, while listening, to try to understand those expectations so we can manage them as tightly as possible. A well organized, and thoroughly thought out plan for trying to understand the pictures painted in the client's mind goes a long way towards minimizing expectation risk.

This is where "under promise, and over deliver" comes into play! In just the last post I was cranking about those Builders who were "over promising, and under delivering." Sure they get the contract signed by over promising, but they have set themselves up for complete mismanagement of their client's expectations. And the clients end up furious! The Builder probably doesn't care...after all, he/she beat out all the other guys and got the contract signed (though with a pack of lies!)!

All eighty-three hosts and hostesses would be delighted to know that Brittney and Mac's Engagement Party wildly exceeded our expectations! But that is the way in Monroe - quietly, and humbly "under promise" a wonderful evening of sending the future Bride and Groom off in style, then "OVER DELIVER" with an event that even the New York debutante circuit would be very proud of! I suppose that's the town's way of "managing expectations!"
Monroe photographs courtesy of Mary Dawson Photography

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

"Hindsight is 20/20"

"Would-a, Should-a, Could-a!" How many times have you looked backwards in life to realize that things today would really be different if I "Would-a, or Should-a, or Could-a" only handled a situation in a manner other than the way it was handled? Is the economy affording us too much time to re-examine issues long since put to bed, only to pine away for an outcome that might have us in a different position today? It certainly has for me!

Not operating at full capacity and having excessive time on our hands, we tend to re-play life situations under the microscope. I have found myself recently looking back at project interviews dissecting and micro-analyzing every phrase that was uttered, trying to understand if we said or did anything to "spook" the deal.  I continually find that my business partner and I are consistently plainspoken - simply espousing the plain unvarnished truth, and sharing how our skill set might help the intended project. We haven't over promised anything! Yet it seems our competition largely cannot make the same claim....

"Desperate people do desperate things!" We live in a world where a lot of people find it acceptable to say or do whatever is necessary to get a signed contract. 'Why not' they reason - once the contract is signed it's very hard to get out of it! And it is! Common is the conversation where we hear damaged homeowners describe Contractors who have over promised and under delivered!

I like to live in the world of "no regrets." That is to say simply that I want my decisions to always reflect my position of never regretting my actions or speech. Doesn't alway happen that way, but the majority of the time I am left with the feeling that I did the right thing. My benchmark is quite simple - did I say or do anything that I wish I had not said or done; and did I not say or do anything that I wish I would have said or done?!! If my answer to these questions is "no," then I have no regrets.

The tapestry of life seems so much clearer when we look backwards. Trouble is, you can't move forward if you're always looking backwards!