Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Negative Can Be Positive

When I bought my first Pig's Ear to renovate, I was full of hope and optimism.  I was excited because I saw the house's potential.  I imagined how it would look when I was done and accepted how bad it actually was on the day I took ownership.  In addition, I was like Cliff (played by Matt Dillon) in the movie clip from Singles shown below:  I didn't want to hear anything negative.  But people poured it on me.  And the same thing happened with Pig's Ear #2, PE #3, and so on.  As I started each project, I was flooded with comments such as: "You can't save this place.","Are you going to try to do this all by yourself?","You'll never get your money back out of here.","Where's your help?","This house has to be torn down.","You can't have this place done in a year.","Do you really know what you're doing?", and on and on.  This wasn't all coming from one or two people, the sources of the comments were numerous and diverse.     

On the outside I was trying to display a friendly smile and act as if these things were rolling off me like water from a duck, but I was like Cliff and I really didn't appreciate the discouraging words.  I sure didn't feel unstoppable.  I felt vulnerable because I was heading into unfamiliar territory.  I had plenty of construction experience, but I'd never worked on anything that had been condemned.  What I needed was some encouragement and as much as I wanted the pessimists to be wrong, they had to be, because I had no options short of bringing those places back to life. 

I listened like a gentleman, but like Dillon's character described above, that negativity did make me stronger.  That stuff echoed in my head and kept me working even later into the night and got me out of bed early when I was tired and sore.  It drove me and filled me with inspiration.  It motivated and molded me into something more capable.  I'm still polite when someone comes onto my site with words of gloom and doom, but now I'm ready for the barrage of pessimism.  Now, when someone says, "You can't save this house.  Do you have any idea what you've gotten yourself into here?", the visceral response that usually comes to mind is:  Whatever.  Get out of my way.  Go over to the other side of the street, take a seat, and watch me.   However, what I actually say next is something like, "I've saved houses a lot worse than this one."  I couldn't say that back in the 90's, but I can now.  It delivers the message I need it to so the naysayers get out of my way and watch.

If you're buying an old house to renovate, restoring a classic car, or doing something else people have a tough time wrapping their minds around, be ready for less-than-supportive comments, remember the scene above from Singles, and let the negative energy just make you stronger.

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