In March, my husband and I bought our first home. We had been looking since early September, so when we finally found this house, we pounced. As we talked with my parents about the shift from being renters to homeowners, my mom told us about a friend of hers whose husband would ?do his rounds? every night after he got home from work. He would check on the furnace and the sump pump, the fireplace and the water heater, making sure everything was still working properly?since he had checked on it the day before. What a waste of time, I thought.
When we moved in a few weeks later and it became quite clear that no such daily rounds had been made by the previous owners, I wished this ?time-waster? guy had been the one to sell to us, instead of people with a philosophy of ?if it ain’t broke, why fix it?and even if it is, it’s probably okay.? I’m learning that things don?t need to be fully broken before you can make them better, more efficient, and?more enjoyable.?What feels small and manageable can quickly build up and become expensive, or even life-threatening. (Like when we found out our chimney hadn’t been cleaned in years, thus containing extremely flammable remnants that make our much sought-after fireplace currently unusable. Or that a lint buildup had previously caused a fire because the owners didn’t remove the dryer lint after doing laundry?and yet the dryer was still filled with lint when we moved in. Sigh.)
But I don’t think this theme applies only to those of us crazy and lucky enough to be homeowners. I think it applies to everyone. And over my time in ministry, I have seen seemingly small things become habits and, ultimately, culture-destroyers.
For the first few years on my team, I observed and participated in something that soon earned the term ?the meeting after the meeting?. A meeting would end, and while some people would leave the room, others would stay to discuss something that had just occurred. The appeal was obvious: If you have something to say about something that happened during the meeting, but you aren’t sure if anyone else feels the same, just save it for the meeting after the meeting. While it can be helpful to discuss things about your team with a smaller group of people from time to time, for us, this just caused division. It helped create an ?us vs. them mentality, which quickly poisons a team. When it was brought up as a whole team, we realized that we all needed to do a better job of saying how we really felt?using emotional and relational intelligence, of course?and that an honest and vulnerable team was?worth putting yourself out there for, even if you end up being?the only one who feels a certain way. Because 1) how you feel matters, and 2) it usually helps launch a conversation that gets us to a better place on that topic or just as a team that is able to listen to each other well.[quote]An honest and vulnerable team is?worth putting yourself out there.[/quote]
I don?t remember when the meeting after the meeting began, but I remember the impact of its ending. This is how a lot of issues on teams are born. We can’t pinpoint exactly how something began, but we can easily trace its origins to issues that feel overwhelming or toxic today. I find that when you recognize something like that, you have to take a cue from fire safety and stop, drop, and roll. (Am I the only one having flashbacks to fourth grade right now?)
Stop: Once you?ve identified the issue, stop its movement.?Just stop it. Keep it from spreading and increasing in momentum as soon as you possibly can.
Drop: Change the perspective that you?re looking at the issue. The problem won’t change if you aren’t changing how you are able to approach it.?Perhaps?you need to bring other people in who are neutral to the issue or more of an expert on the topic. But whatever you can do to change the way you have always gone about it, do that.[quote]The problem won’t change if you aren’t changing how you are able to approach it.[/quote]
Roll: Once you think the fire is out, don’t get lazy. Keep watching for sparks that could easily set the same issue ablaze again, so that you can stomp it out with little effort.
If you?re in the middle of a season where things feel overwhelming and you don’t know how you got to the place you are, take heart. It might be as simple as stop, drop, and roll.