Put a computer keyboard beneath my fingertips and I can work my way through almost any set of problems. Give me a list of numbers and I become a human calculator. These are my domains of excellence. I am ready, willing, and confident of the outcome when put in these scenarios.
Put a hammer in my hand, a tape measure on my belt, and a hacksaw next to a few two by fours and I seize up. My confidence level plummets while my anxiety level escalates. I don’t have tremendous amounts of positive experience to draw upon. In the past, blueprints for a coffee table would have a high likelihood of ending up sloping to the right and wobbling like a see-saw. Accompanied by a few choice words that usually don’t emanate from my mouth, I suppose I save them for these special occasions. Or maybe they come about due to the untimely introduction of said hammer to left index fingernail.
About a year ago, the landscape lights that adorned our front yard for more than ten years had seen the end of their useful life. Beginning to corrode and hunch over like a wilting flower, their last evening of illumination was complete. The removal of these lights left a set of exposed wires, naked to the elements. In the name of safety, the electrical breaker tied to these lights was turned off so as to avoid an unintended short circuit and potential house fire. Sounded like a good idea.
As luck would have it, this particular breaker was tied to many other electrical components in our house. The garage light, the outlet in the laundry room that powered our wireless router, and our doorbell all received a vacation from service at the same time. As a result, a sign was hung outside our front door (Please knock loudly, doorbell does not work), an extension cord snaked across the laundry room floor to obtain internet connectivity, and a piece of blue painter’s tape was adhered to the circuit breaker to serve as a temporary switch indicator when light was necessary in the garage.
This workaround was meant to tide us over for a few days. As weeks and months passed, this temporary fix became much more permanent as we approached the year milestone. With every return trip home, I was constantly reminded of my perceived deficiency in resolving this situation. The two inch diameter PVC pipes sticking out of the ground with exposed wires laughed in my general direction, mocking my procrastination and apprehension.
As the past weekend came upon us, it was decided that it was time to take care of many things on the to-do list around the house. Yard work, weed picking, pressure washing our paved surfaces, and fixing the dreaded landscape lights. For a brief moment, my heart skipped a beat with trepidation. What would the outcome be? How was I going to secure the new lights to the exposed fixture? How could I possibly make this work given my past track record?
Whether you think you can or think you can’t – you are right. ~Henry Ford
Something inside clicked, an infusion of self-confidence flowed briefly, and I grasped it with expediency and faith, ready to undertake the challenge ahead of me. I was in control of this situation. I was capable of not only being successful, but enjoying the process. I had a choice to believe that I would be looking at a home illuminated by new floodlights come evening’s end.
I didn’t come up with something that worked the first time around. It took several iterations. After many trips to our local hardware store, however, I finally honed in on a solution that was safe and reliable. With the help of my son and a healthy dose of self-confidence, we carried out our well-laid plan to completion with cheers of applause from all in attendance (ourselves included).
You must do the thing you think you cannot do. ~Eleanor Roosevelt
As I walk into our kitchen, a framed cross-stitch created by my wife holds this quote inside its borders. It’s time to do the dishes and we are only able to use one side of the sink due to a leaky pipe from the depths below, a place I don’t usually like to go.
And then I hear the doorbell ring. The doorbell that now works only because I had the courage to do the thing that I thought was not possible. A smile crosses my face as I realize the doorbell is a signal from inside that I have more work to do. I have more bridges to cross, more things to do, inside the house and within myself.
And with each return trip home, the illuminated palm trees re-ignite that flame of self-confidence inside and remind me to have the courage to persevere and prevail. You get what you expect. Expect greatness.