If You Build It, You Have to Maintain It

September 9, 2019

Just the other day I was in the yard picking up dog poop.

Also known as… any other day.

Quick fact: 4 years ago we rescued a black Lab mix. I must love her a lot to let her use my backyard as a toilet.

Maddy e1568067309739 if you build it, you have to maintain it

Maddy The Mutt

So, I’m in the yard, picking up the dog poop, having that sense of deja vu…

Didn’t I just do this? Wasn’t I out here the other day picking up the dog poop? And here I am doing it again. And tomorrow there will be more. And the day after that… and the day after that…

Quick fact: All those little people who begged for a dog and promised to help care for the dog by picking up the poop are not, in fact, picking up the poop.

So, I’m in the yard. Picking up the dog poop. Because there is always dog poop.

If you can count on anything, it’s that for as long as this dog is in my house – using my backyard as her personal expanse of toilet – there will be dog poop that needs picking up.

Toilet sign if you build it, you have to maintain it

And if I don’t do it, apparently no one else will.

Meaning that if I don’t do it, the poop is going to pile up.

Facing a giant pile of dog poop – multiple – would be decidedly more unpleasant than picking up the dog poop – singular.

The moral of the story: Sometimes you have to do sh-t you don’t want to do.

If you’ve been reading the Commander-in-She blog, you know I see symbolism everywhere. Through a ladybug in the bathtub. At a hot air balloon festival. By wearing a dress with pockets or watching someone fetch someone else a hot dog. That was so not fetch.

The symbolism of the daily poop pickup is this:

It is not enough to do something once and assume it’s sufficiently done. 

You have to do the same onerous / annoying / stinky things. Over and over again.

Building a career or a personal brand or a business or a side gig of any sort requires vision and ingenuity and courage. (Money helps too. Please send money…)

Oh, and maintenance. Lots and lots of maintenance.

If you build it, they will come. But if you don’t maintain it, they’re not going to stick around.

Whisper that in your cornfield. Then go the distance and do the work.

If you don’t tend to that garden by weeding it daily, the weeds will take over.

If you don’t cull through that deluge of emails, your inbox will have 14,602 unopened messages. I saw this once and broke into hives.

If you create a great LinkedIn profile but don’t post and connect regularly, you’ve got a great LinkedIn profile few people will see.

If you stop exercising, your muscles will atrophy.

If you build a kiosk of How to Find the Best Things in Freeport, like this one, you then need to… oh, I don’t know… actually find the best things in Freeport and then post them on this sign. Otherwise, what’s the point?

Sign with no information

Is it possible there are no “best things” in Freeport?

Or, are there “best things” in Freeport, but there is no way to find them?

Someone dropped the ball here. #doyourjob #nothingtodoinfreeport

On any given day, I face an assortment of onerous / annoying / stinky tasks I’d rather avoid. The funny thing is, avoiding them doesn’t make them go away.

I have to follow the SAD method:

Sort. Attack. Delegate.

If I leave it all until it all piles up – a giant sh-t pile on my desk – I would also be sad. A different kind of sad.

(Note to self: delegate the picking up of the dog poop to those little people who have forgotten that they promised to help pick up the dog poop…)

So, what are you working on?

Your business or your brand? Your goals or career or personal growth?

What are the tasks you need to tend to – monthly, weekly, hourly – to make your work WORK?

Don’t forget to update the sign, respond to or delete the emails, post on LinkedIn, move your muscles, weed the garden, plow your cornfield, ease his pain…

And pick up the poop before you step in it.

Val and maddy web2 if you build it, you have to maintain it Valerie Gordon is a lifelong storyteller, award-winning producer, and the founder of career and communications strategy firm The Storytelling Strategist. She brings the power of storytelling to conferences and corporations to help high-achievers ascend the leadership ladder. Check out her other humor articles here. 


Blog Archive