I live in a neighborhood with 321 homes and there is a homeowner’s association. I went to the most recent board meeting. There is always lots of tension around the issues in the neighborhood. If you were to listen in on these meetings, you might think our community is about to go bankrupt, everyone is going to be jailed, and the sky is falling. *Sidebar: In fact, last Sunday, one of the homeowner’s threatened to call the cops on my kids and I if we didn’t stop shooting basketball in the street. My kids are 7 and 11, the speed limit is 15mph and it was noon on Sunday. *
As a result from the meeting, the board sent out a list of the top 15 most common complaints they have gotten within our neighborhood. Here they are:
- Driveways, roofs, houses and gutters that need to be power washed. Please be mindful that mildew can form on the back or side roof without it being noticed and should be check periodically
- Lawns not being mowed and edged on a regular basis
- Failure to pull weeds from flower beds and driveways on a regular basis
- Mulch needed in flower beds
- Dead plants and trees that need to be removed
- Bushes, shrubs and hedges not being trimmed
- Items normally stored indoors such as trash cans, hoses, ladders, children’s toys, garden and pool maintenance equipment, basketball hoop, etc., left or stored in public view
- Boats stored in driveways
- Dogs not being walked on a leash
- Homeowners not cleaning up their dog’s business
- Business advertising on vehicles which are parked in driveways
- Lawn and garden equipment not being stored out of the public view
- Trash receptacles left in sight after the trash has been collected
- A wall or shrubs are required around AC and Pool equipment
- Non-conforming vehicles parked in the driveway
In full transparency, I received a letter in violation of numbers 1,2,3,4,5, and 6. How many of you would be in violation of one (or more) of these? My first reaction to this list was, “ARRGGHHH, this is so frustrating.” After I looked at it again, my reaction was, “If these are the top things we’re worried about, life is good.”
It was also brought up in the same meeting that one of the houses in our neighborhood was selling methamphetamine. It was also brought up that one of the neighbors was threatening to “torture” their next-door neighbor and make their life “a living hell”. Where is “Selling meth” and “threatening other humans” on this list of top concerns?
I see 15 little things on this list. I see two huge things that aren’t on this list. I’m making my own determination of what’s a big thing and what’s a little thing. It’s also easier for me to look at these “from the press box” at a higher view. The next-door neighbors to the meth house and the bullying neighbor have bigger things to worry about such as the safety of their children.
I believe we live in a time of anxiety and I’m certainly worried about my own issues and losing sleep over my own “stuff”. Richard Carlson has made a career off “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff (1997)” series of books. It’s time to determine if this issue is a small thing or a big thing.
So, what’s all this have to do with your department, culture, or business?
As a leader, if you deem everything to be important, nothing becomes important. I watch Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari yelling on the sidelines at the players. If he’s always yelling, they begin to tune him out. As a leader, it’s necessary to determine if this issue is a big thing or a small thing. Is this issue “weeds in flower beds” or “meth lab next door”?
One simple idea is to rank the issue on a scale of 1-10 based on urgency and importance. If it’s urgent and it’s important and it’s a “10” on your scale, it’s OK to worry about it. If it’s less than a 5, don’t worry about it yet. Part of the reason we’re in a time of anxiety is we are worrying about everything. Stop, think, breathe, and determine what’s urgent and important and what really matters. If you can’t determine what really matters to you, either read our previous blog on “One More Question” or reach out to Lisk Associates, LLC to develop your leadership potential.