When I was about 12 years old, my dad thought I needed a project. He also wanted a long stone walkway in his backyard. The solution he thought was to have me and my little brother build it!
Being only 12 years old, he knew I would need some oversight and the ability to drive to pick up supplies as needed. So he asked his dad to be the project manager. Looking back it was a great learning experience. I learned how to manage my first employee (my 9 year old brother). I felt I was an exceptional boss. My brother didn’t share the same feelings. To say that we argued and fought would be a great understatement, but we also bonded and learned a lot.
It is a big walk way, maybe one of the biggest ever built by such young workers. It is wide and VERY long with large stones and grass growing through it. It still stands today and I still walk on it with great pride.
While I enjoy the fruits of our labor and all we learned, when we were building it I thought it would never end. When we started the project it was just getting warm. We worked through the summer heat and then in to the cold winter days. I still remember the ground being frozen in the mornings when we would start our work day.
There are so many life lessons I learned from that experience, but one that stands out. My granddad stopped by one day to see how we were doing and give us a little instruction. He observed and listened to our complaints about how much we still had to do. To us when we looked at the finish line, it felt like we would never get there! After all, the time we spent on this project was nearly 10% of the time we had been on alive on this earth! That is a long time for 9 and 12 year olds! Needless to say we were full of complaints.
My granddad offered some sound advice. He noticed we were working facing and looking always at the finish line. He instructed us to turn around and look backwards as we were working. Focus on how much we had already accomplished and be proud of that.
It was simple advice, but there was great wisdom in it. I never forgot it. Yes, we had to have the outline and plan and work towards the end goal. But sometimes only looking ahead can be frustrating. Certainly, it was true for me at 12 years old, but I find my granddad’s wisdom to be equally helpful as an adult.
Some times we need to look back and celebrate when we are feeling stuck in the middle. Look how far we’ve come!