Saturday, February 4, 2012

Vinny Had The Right Attitude

For me, renovating dilapidated houses has been a lot of hard work mixed with too many mistakes to count.  I've learned to repair my damaged ego by reminding myself that my blunders are just part of the learning process.  Now, consider that a doctor establishes a medical practice.  Nothing wrong with that.  Or someone announces that they passed the bar and can now practice law.  Sounds about right.  However, if a plumber shows up at your house with his tools and says he's practicing plumbing you'd be like, "What?  Are you serious?  Next."  And if a painter says they'd be glad to practice with your house I'd expect most of you would simply say, "No thanks."

The way I see it, that's what home renovators have in common with doctors, dentists, and attorneys; we're all really just practicing.  Everyone screws up sometimes, but you have to learn from it and move forward.  Remember the movie My Cousin Vinny?  Vinny (played by Joe Pesci) was the lawyer and he didn’t know what he was doing, but that didn’t stop him from trying/'practicing.'  He kept doing boneheaded things, going to jail, and then showing up for court again and again until he eventually fell into a groove, started to sort things out, and saved the Karate Kid (Ralph Macchio) and the guy who played Rachel’s ex-husband on Friends

Like the people operating on you, drilling into your teeth, or helping you with your legal battles, you’re not going to know everything about what you’re doing if and when you embark on a home renovation project.  You’re going to screw up sometimes and probably more than once.  I’ve been working in the construction industry for two decades and I’ve been renovating extremely run down houses for over half of that time.  Even with all that experience I still fail inspections.  Be ready to forgive yourself when you make a misstep, measure or cut something incorrectly, order or buy the wrong thing, or get into a situation that you are completely clueless about.  The mistakes you’re going to make are just part of the adventure of renovating a house and if you ever do something similar a second time you'll know better.  So, be prepared to cut yourself some slack and retrace a few of your steps when you do something really stupid. 

Remember from the start that in many respects your practicing and that no house renovation goes flawlessly, but unlike heart surgery, a root canal, or a capital murder case, you’re the only one that’s going to suffer when you do a really dumb thing.  No one’s going to die when you screw up, nobody’s going to wince or scream out in agony because you drilled into a nerve, and you won’t derail someone else's life because you stood before a judge and said too many of the wrong things.  Try not to forget that you’re renovating a house and unlike the people you really need to be perfect, it’s alright for you not to be.        

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