Expectation of Perfection
Our Tennessee House Under Construction
Moving from Indiana to Tennessee
Twenty years ago, my wife and I lived in Muncie, Indiana. I was a Registered Nurse and worked in Intensive Care for 10 years. Later I worked with the Information Systems Department when our hospital installed a new computer system for doctors, nurses, technicians, and other hospital workers to chart patient care: The Electronic Medical Record.
I then went to work for the company that installed our hospital computer system. I was a software applications analyst, and I traveled to hospitals all around the United States.
When I wasn't traveling, I worked from my home office in Indiana. The company I worked for had team members from all across the country. It didn't matter where we lived as long as we could travel.
In 1998 our first granddaughter was born. We lived about an hour from our daughter and son-in-law, and we loved being grandparents. Later that year, our son-in-law was transferred to Nashville.
We wanted so much to be near our beautiful little granddaughter, and since I could work from almost, anywhere we decided to move to Tennessee. A few miles south of Nashville, we found a new neighborhood being developed where a builder was just starting to build and sell homes. It wasn't easy having a new home built while living in another state, but we finally got through it and moved in.
Our Completed Tennessee House
We Move Into Our New Home
Moving into a brand new home was exciting. We had never lived in a newly built house, and I thought that since it was new and no one had ever lived there that it would be perfect. I soon found out that I was wrong, and my expectation of perfection was dashed. I would walk through the house looking for any imperfection that I could find. And I found many. The imperfections were mostly little things like paint runs, carpet seams, a wall that was not perfectly square and so on.
Those imperfections weighed on my mind. When I received a phone call from a survey company to evaluate the builder, I gave them a very low evaluation.
I Wanted to See a Well Built House
A few months after we moved in, I saw an advertisement for open houses in a new gated community close to Nashville. These were multi-million dollar houses. The houses were out of our budget at that time (and by “at that time” I mean this lifetime). I wanted to see them anyway so I could see how a house really should be built when money was not an object. We attended the open house and toured several of the new mansions. These houses were huge and probably three or more times the size of our house.
A Well Built Mansion?
Mansions Have Imperfections Too
The houses were beautiful inside and out. So in I went on my mission to view perfection. I did not find it, and much to my surprise, I found every imperfection that I had found in our house in these multi-million dollar homes. These weren't huge imperfections. The houses were amazingly beautiful, but nevertheless, I did find every imperfection that had troubled me about our house. I found the paint imperfections, runs, and drips, imperfect angles on some walls, and when I looked closely, I found a few carpet seams.
That experience was a real eye-opener for me. It completely changed how I felt about our new home. I was much more appreciative and thankful for the home we had.
Sharing My Lesson Learned
A few months later, I was in Atlanta for a meeting and one of my coworkers, Carolyn, was building a new home. She asked me if I had any advice for someone building a new house. Without hesitation, I said, "Yes. Do not expect perfection. It does not exist." I then told her of my experience with our new house and about how upset I was when I found little defects in the craftsmanship. I said, "Houses are built by people, and people are not perfect. Perfection does not exist here on earth."
About a year later I was in Atlanta for another work meeting. Carolyn came up to me and said, "Ron, you were so right. Every time I walk through our new house and see an imperfection I think of you."
I was glad that maybe I helped her with the new home experience. And that just maybe she did not have to go through the let down that I experienced when I first moved into my new home.
Deal With the Big Stuff
Don’t get me wrong, a new home will likely have many things that absolutely have to be fixed. We had one bathroom where the builder installed a carpeted floor instead of tile, and the sink was not the sink we had ordered. Those items and a few others had to be fixed, and they were.
What I learned from this experience is that I had to compromise. I had to let go of some of the little things in order to appreciate the overall good of what we had. That letting go made me much happier. This is my example of how I learned to not sweat the small stuff.
A Preacher's Message Strikes Home
I'm often reminded of when I was around seven years old sitting in church one Sunday morning. The preacher said, "Remember to look for the good in people because if you look for the bad, you will always find it.” That statement stuck with me. I find that it applies to so many things in life. Not just to people. And sometimes our journey through this world can be more pleasant if we just remember to look for the good.
Questions & Answers
© 2018 Ron Grimes