After Fred got on a ladder and handed me dusty boxes from the garage loft, and we opened them to find flattened decorations and twisted and snarled strings of lights, it occurred to me: Managing the process of decorating a yard for the holidays is like managing a business, e.g.:
- Even though I had, after the 2019 holidays, neatly labeled everything as to where it was displayed, it still took hours to lay the decorations on the driveway and debate placement and what new and better locations might exist for 2020. It seems that no matter how tidily things are stowed, it’s still a pain, a year later, to untangled and decipher. Just like in a business. Who hasn’t completed a task and given themselves a pat on the back, only to have to retrain themselves and others for something only done a couple of times a year? Inventory, for example, or a quarterly accounting process. For myself, intensive retraining is sometimes necessary after a 3-day weekend, depending on what I did that weekend.
Lesson Although you should attempt to be accurate in your inventory process and your balance sheets are best updated monthly, forget about applying that kind of logic to Christmas decorations, because invisible elves get drunk on eggnog and sneak into your home to mess with your stuff no matter how careful you are.
- Every night, we go on “Light Patrol,” checking for dead lights in the large-bulbed strings that line our long, straight driveway, making it look like a 4th SeaTac runway. On recent a patrol, I reached down to take out an unlit bulb, and it broke in my hand, causing me to bleed profusely and curse like a longshoreman. In business, what manager hasn’t tried to change something old, outdated, or dead to something new that works better? And who hasn’t felt pain while doing so? The difference is that no blood is involved, although it may feel like it. We unplugged the string and used a pair of pliers to pry the broken bulb out, but guess what? A new bulb didn’t work in that receptacle, either, which rendered the whole attempt meaningless except for my inability to use my lacerated right thumb without pain.
Lesson Wear gloves when removing large bulbs, and a tough hide when making changes in your business.
- We’ve had “Big Boy,” a six-foot tall drummer boy with bright lights sticking out of its aluminum body, for at least a dozen years, and when not in use, he stands in the garage, covered by a sheet, making it difficult to fully open the car door. Getting it to its usual spot is like carrying an immense, stiff, porcupine whose head just might roll off on the way there. And the drum. The drum falls off, too, and we’ve wired all the parts together, those wires now all nice and rusty and ready to give us tetanus. Every time we plug it in, we hope that it’ll fail to light. We’ll squint at it and yell, “Ha ha! The blue lights have died!” only to realize that they’re difficult to see in the daytime against his dark blue slacks, whereupon we’ll cry out, a la Dr. Frankenstein: “It’s ah-live!!!” followed by those handy longshoreman swear words.
Lesson What manager hasn’t kept an underperforming employee on the payroll for sentimental reasons? And just about the time you’re ready to gently usher them to the door, you discover they have some inherent value that you’ve overlooked, or are the owner’s nephew.
Frustrating stuff, whether decorations or business, but beautiful when they work!