Wednesday, May 26, 2010

"Webb Creek" - A Story of Family Teamwork

In my last post I highlighted the five elements of a high-performing team, and I asserted that this was true not just of sports and business teams, but of families as well. Here's my story...

When Kathleen and I moved to the Texas Hill Country, our new home had no landscaping. Our acre was littered with tree shards and construction debris. On a limestone ridge the “soil” consists of mostly boulders, rocks and pebbles, with some clay mixed in. The bad news was that we were faced with two or three years of hard physical labor. The good news was that we could make it look anyway we wanted. My theory was that the land would tell us what to do. And that’s sort of what happened. 

That first spring we had a lot of rain. And since our home was built on the down-slope of a ridge, we watched as gullies formed in our yard. I soon realized that the land was telling us that we should transform these gullies into a dry creek bed. 

We needed to deepen and widen the gullies, link them into a drainage system, and extend it for about 100 feet across our back yard. Then we needed to gather an assortment of rocks from all over the property and place them along the edges. The final step would be to pour concrete and rocks into the base of the bed along its entire length. And oh yeah, make it look like Mother Nature had created it.

I had just started the project when Kathleen’s sister, Jane, came for a visit. She took a look at what I had done so far and said, “You shouldn’t do this by yourself. Let us help you. The whole family can come out next weekend and you can tell us what to do. It'll be fun.”

I tried to play that movie in my mind, and my mind was a blank. That’s always a bad sign. But I thought if I refused her generous offer I might hurt her feelings. So I told her, “You know, I really could use some help. Digging the trench is a lot more work than I thought it would be. If you guys can help me get that done, I can handle the rest of it.”

So the next weekend the Webb family showed up ready to work. We supplied the gloves, pick-axes, shovels, smoked beef brisket and cold drinks. Before long it became clear that some of us were needed to dig, some to gather rocks, and some to move dirt. Soon we were operating as a team. Everyone worked hard, and at the end of the day the dry creek bed had been dug. 

It took me about three more weeks to rearrange and embed the rocks into the sides of the gully. It was a labor of love, let me tell you. 

Later, when it came time to pour the concrete, I realized I couldn’t do it without help. So as I mixed the concrete in a wheelbarrow, Kathleen organized the rocks. Then, as I poured, she quickly placed the rocks in the concrete before it dried. Over a period of days we repeated this procedure about twenty times as we moved down the slope. A week later, the creek bed was completely dry and cured. Kathleen put in some border plants and later the family gathered to celebrate. 

We named the new feature “Webb Creek” to honor the team effort with Jane’s family.

Use your candle to light other candles, and you’ll create a bright light.

Post by Dennis E. Coates, Ph.D., Copyright 2010. Building Personal Strength .

1 comment:

Kathleen Scott said...

And every time I see that water gush past the house, I'm grateful to the people in our lives who love us enough to wield pickaxes and haul rocks.