My dad and I are so similar, it is shockingly surprising at times, and it seems as the years go on, the similarities continue to grow. How we communicate, down to words, phrases, and hand gesture, is near identical. People have always made the comments about how much I look like my dad, since I was a little boy. In college, I found my dad’s graduation picture and snapped a copy on my phone to show to me friends, and they thought it was a picture of me!
Nowadays I’m finding even smaller things falling in alignment with his habits and practices. I used to be a stickler for driving the speed limit. Over the past years I have come to appreciate the fluidity allowed in our system that really speaks to a speed limit being more of a suggestion than a hard rule. However, unlike my father, I have not had a single ticket yet, where he had one insurance company drop him by my age due to excessive speeding tickets.
Another random habit that my body has decided to shape itself too without consulting me over the past year is deciding to take me from being a morning person to more of a night owl. Growing up and through college I would regularly get up between 5:30am to 6:30am, which meant falling asleep around 8:30pm to 9:30pm. Now I am lucky if my body and brain will call it quits before 11! It doesn’t even matter if I am feeling tired, if I make it past somewhere around 7pm, I’m in for the whole ride until 11 – midnight.
“Like father, like son,” the saying goes.
One of the ways I am most like my father, and I have only become aware of it in the most recent years is our people pleasing tendencies. Having worked in his company until just recently, there have been plenty of times seeing his advice and my good sense go down the drain when it came to a confrontation of any sort.
Being in the construction industry as a decent sized general contractor, we got to play a middle man of sorts between the owners paying for the project and the subcontractors (varying companies in specific trades) we would hire to do the work. In addition, the design team was somewhere in their own space, but tied to the owner. Being intensely relational people, that is a web of relationships that needs to be maintained versus a puzzle of money management and getting people to do the tasks necessary to get the job done.
However, being in the construction industry works hard to disavow anyone with those notions that it is a reasonable approach. Let me show you why.
As a general contractor, here are the forces you are dealing with:
- We were engaged in projects on average ranging from $2 million to $25+ million, with gross revenue in the $65-90 million range.
- Timelines were usually in the 8 to 16 month time ranges, with liquidated damages in the $500 – $2,000 per DAY late in completion
- The average net profit (what the company keeps after all expenses are paid) of the top performing general contractors in the industry sits around 2.5-3%, meaning
- Small mistakes on ONE project, a small project, easily hit the $10,000 mark. Small mistakes on a big project can easily hit the $50,000 mark. Big mistakes on small projects can crest $100k. Big mistakes on big projects can surge over $1,000,000 (It’s happened).
What this leads to is an industry locked in contracts that clearly line out responsibilities for everyone and puts up boundaries to keep any failure or negligence in their responsibilities from flowing over and financially impacting any of the other parties. Now, when you have the owner, the design team (architect, structural engineer, electrical engineer, mechanical (pluming & heating/cooling systems) engineer, civil engineer, specialty consultants, ect.), the construction team (general contract [us] and 30 plus subcontractors averaging 2-4 contractors or material suppliers below them) things get complicated.
Somewhere, someone along the line is going to do something that jambs a stick in the spokes that will cause complications, which will spiral into problems. Then those problems will have babies, and eventually three or four generations down the line (maybe even five or six in some cases) you manage to cauterize the heads of the hydra and finish the project. As the general contractor, you are responsible for shepherding the project from the beginning of construction to the end. You and your team are responsible for chasing down the problems and hounding them to their demise.
More often than not, playing nice guy and trying to keep people happy did not bring the required results. To many hammers were strung up above their heads that being friendly and helpful did not cut through the fear of impending doom from another project (or 2 or 3 or 4 or…) had locked them in. Usually, the contracts have to be brought out, the articles outlining people’s responsibilities (aka who gets to carry the financial fallout of this particular issue if it isn’t solved) are referenced, and the countdown clock until that hammer falls is set.
Most unpleasant conversations for us highly relational types.
I do not know how many times I had conversations with my dad about the variety of issues we faced across the broad spectrum of projects we had. We were so good at identifying what the hard facts were: who needed to be reminded of their responsibilities (and the cost of failure), how to do it, when to do it, the timeline they needed to meet. But somewhere in the execution, we just could not hold true to what needed to be done. For me, the phone call might not get made, the hammer made a little softer, the timeline ignored or extended, and extended, and extended… I could not see how I could do what needed to be done without potentially damaging the relationship and looking like the jerk who had to resort to intimidation to get things done.
I eventually grew to forcing myself to get better and better at doing the actions of what I saw as “threating upon failure to comply” because of the worse pain of not stepping in and doing it.
The eventual godsend came when our company began using a tool called the Core Value Index. It was a tool that helped quickly and simply show what people would naturally excel at, what they might struggle with, and how they could bring their best selves to the table. It changed my life, and it changed my dad’s life. Our profile in it was not identical, but fairly close.
We were both highly relational, problem solvers that shied away from bringing the facts to bear and holding people accountable to their commitments. When we were faced with conflict, we naturally went to repairing relationship and trying to get everyone working together again.
When that failed, we would go into overdrive and continue trying to force relationships into a good space instead of going to the necessary space of bringing accountability to prior commitments. For me, it showed the light that the accountability and reminder of facts was not intimidation, it just felt weird because it came from areas that I had a lower natural capacity in. On top of that, it helped me see the over functioning of my relational capacity was an immature handling of the situation.
The over functioning was a result of ME being uncomfortable instead of truly wanting to help others. I thought I was being extra loving and caring, instead it showed I was being selfish, and it helped me see that the most loving and caring action would be to bring accountability to the facts because they were going to face the results whether or not I informed them of the consequences.
The Core Value Index (CVI) was also instrumental in helping me step out of my career in the construction industry and into my own business as a life/executive coach. It showed definitively that I was not crazy or just needing to get an attitude adjustment. The vast majority of what my job required was in the areas of my lowest capacity, but life/executive coaching, which I had already had some surprise side success in, was using the full power of who I was.
This is why I have gotten certified in using the CVI. It helped me understand who I was, where I was at in my career, and to see when I needed to make a transition. It has empowered me and matured me in my work and personal life.
In my passionate drive to understand how people are wired and how to lift them to being their highest and best selves, I have not found a tool that supersedes it. They have the third-party studies showing that 98% of people who took it upwards of twenty years ago and now get the same results.
On the business side, it is immensely helpful for situations like:
- Hiring people motivated and committed to doing their job
- Enabling employees to succeed through task/skill alignment
- Building teams/departments that have strengths synergy
- Developing leadership and team building skills with executives and managers
- Helping with conflict resolution by helping team members see the values and strengths of people they are clashing with
On the personal side, it has been used to help with:
- Being confident in who you are and the amazing good you bring to the world
- Enabling healthy marriages through understanding each other and being aware of when you are slipping into unhealthy conflict strategies
- Understanding who your kids are and parenting them in a way that fits how they naturally learn, enabling them to understand what you are communicating and allowing deeper connection to develop and avoid forming rifts
I love it because the free version of the report is actually help and contains most of the information you would get with the paid version (the paid version is more for digging into the results with a coach). It is also quick. Most people take between 4-12 minutes with it.
Boy, this went down a road I did not expect. Obviously, it hit my nerve of helping people get out of their rut, into a place they can thrive and become the best they can possibly be. I have gone through the slog and grueling paces to figure out who I am and where I can best succeed, and I just want to help others find that too.
To a life worth living.
P.S. If you want to get the free version of the CVI you can go here: http://bit.ly/jgerding-free-cvi. If you ever want to upgrade it, please contact me because I can you 30% off. If you have a business or non-profit, I can also get you three of the paid versions for free. Neither of those require any form of commitment with doing anything with me. I am passionate about people understanding themselves, and this is simply the best tool I have found to date to help with that in a whole life context.