From Risky Rooftops to Progressive Thinking

I had a lot of time to reflect this weekend as I shoveled the snow from my slippery porch roof for, oh, I don’t know, the 10th time this winter. I started out as I usually do, struggling to keep my balance, griping about the fools that would build a porch on a New Hampshire home with such a slight pitch that snow not only stays clung to it, but that it builds up ice dams and subsequent water leaks inside the domicile. After about 30 minutes of this, something magical happened. I stopped grumbling under my breath, stood up straight and just stared off across the snow covered forest a while. The air was still and the branches all had this white frosting on them, set against a beautiful blue sky. I realized that this view is only possible from my rooftop; my snowy, shovely rooftop.

Perhaps it was the change of perspective that started me thinking: you know, I need to give the silly builder a break. After all, he’s only human. I’ve made mistakes too and there’s no joy in stinkin’ thinkin’. I’m better than that. So rather than cuss the guy out the whole time I shovel, why not think constructively about what I would have done differently? I ditched the negativity and poured all that negative energy into brainstorming instead:

  • When I bought the house, I bought the problems too. Self: Stop whining and figure out how to get stronger and better instead.

  • If I designed a roof, I’d look around at the existing roofs of older homes in the area. I’ll note that they are all steep pitch and think: perhaps there is a good reason for that. There’s typically wisdom in age.

  • I’d think beyond the beautiful sunny June day I picked to build a porch, into December and consider that snow, unlike rain, does not run off as well on a roof with barely any pitch to it. A little planning = a lot less back-breaking work.

  • I’d give the previous builder a break, realizing that blaming him for my current situation does nothing to him, only makes me more irritable and gets me nowhere.

By the time I finished shoveling and climbed down from the roof I felt as though I had learned enough to offset the time I spent and the sore muscles I got from the work. These are great principles to apply to my business world as well:

  • There’s no joy in whining. It’s simply counterproductive and doesn’t teach you anything. You signed on for this work, now stop blaming others for your pain and think about how to make it work for you instead of against you.

  • Consider the wisdom of others that did this work before you. What did they do and why did they do it? Does it apply to your situation? What are the principles that guided them to success?

  • Don’t be fooled by the beautiful sunny day your in. Think like a masterful chess player; twelve to fourteen moves ahead. Consider your surroundings not only now, but 6 mo.s or a year from now and plan accordingly.

  • Don’t waste time and energy placing blame and growling at the past. What’s done is done. Learn what you can and grow capabilities for the future.

At some point we will all find ourselves in circumstances we don’t like and can do nothing to change. The silver lining is to employ some progressive thinking and pull all the learning and growth you can out of that situation and use it to get on top of future situations like this. Then even situations that are less than ideal become a valuable part of our lives. You only get one shot at this thing called life. Make it a point to use every bit of it to reach your potential, even the risky rooftops.

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  1. #1 by Joe Jacobs on March 4, 2011 - 2:49 pm

    It takes a lot of trial (and error) to become aware of the inintended consequences of our actions. Don, that was a good blog to read on this sunny day.

    • #2 by Don F Perkins on March 4, 2011 - 3:23 pm


      You’re right. How many times have I stood on that roof and NOT thought like this? A lot. Glad you enjoyed the story.


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