01 September 2013
Last summer, I decided to build a small pond in my backyard as part of a larger makeover. Truth be told, I was getting a little tired of the fact that most of my customers have nicer and better landscaped yards than I do (or at least I imagine that they do). I’m fairly deep into the whole project now, to the point that I can now start to digest the lessons learned.
What it comes down to is that as a grower there are things I’m good at. Equivalently, there are things I’m not good at. I mention the pond because this element of the project involves both aspects. Laying out the shape and dimensions of the pond? No problem. Digging the pond? No problem. I like digging, and besides, any grower who can’t handle a shovel effectively isn’t really a grower (my definition, I made it up).
Then things got tricky. Calculating how much water the pond will actually contain? Problem. I wasn’t a math major, and I hire an accountant to crunch any numbers I can’t deal with on my cell phone 4 banger calculator. Installing the pumps, filters, and other equipment? Bigger problem…I’m not a hydroponics-based growing operation, so if doesn’t involve something that resembles soil I’m lost.
Fish? Good grief, I do horticulture, not aquaculture.
I still don’t have the pond finished, but it’s getting there, and the point that it has driven home is clear. Doing the things we’re good at is a given. We need to be able to count on those abilities, but alone those are not enough to accomplish everything and anything we’re going to encounter in our daily working routines. All too often the difference between overall success and overall failure is how we handle the things we’re not good at.
Usually (because we’re growers) our natural inclination is to try to do it all ourselves. This is an entirely natural and rational response. Mostly we react this way not because we think we’re supermen (or women), but because we think it will save us money (growers are cheap by nature).
Unfortunately this reaction fails to take into account what our time is worth. Did I really save $50 by doing it myself, or did I actually cost myself $100 because it took 3 hours of my valuable time when I could have hired someone who could have done the job in 45 minutes at half the fully-loaded cost? I think most of us can answer this question quite easily.
The bottom line is that it pays to know when to delegate, appoint, or otherwise hand over execution (even of key/critical activities) to others who can do those things better than we can. There’s no room for pride in that part of the equation. And you can still have a darn nice pond when it’s all said and done…
Author: John Ingwersen