Sunday, April 13, 11:15 p.m. Betsy and I are asleep in the bedroom when suddenly the house shakes and it sounds as if something exploded. We enter the darkened hallway and encounter a thick dust we can’t readily identify. Upon turning on the light, we see that our entire living room ceiling has collapsed in one piece, with large pieces of fiberglass and insulation covering our furniture, artwork, TV and stereos. Despite reassurance from the fire department that our house is still structurally sound, we opt to spend the night at a friend’s house and, the following morning, begin the arduous task of sorting through the damage, contacting insurance and bringing in construction crews.
We learned that the sheetrock in our living room ceiling was not properly secured when the house was built more than 40 years ago,* and that we face the same potential problem with our dining room and kitchen ceilings. We decide to take preventative measures and reconstruct the ceilings before the other rooms experience a similar fate. In business, as in life, it’s one thing to not know there is a problem. But it’s quite another to know there is a problem and ignore it.
Thirty minutes earlier that Sunday night, both Betsy and I were in the living room watching TV. It can always be worse.
Jack Canfield talks about changing results. While events outside of our control will undoubtedly take place, we can only own how we respond to them. It is a powerful lesson, and one that applies equally in business and in leadership. We need to proactively address our issues before the ceiling (metaphorically or not) collapses.
*For fans of the movie Apollo 13, “it was determined that a damaged coil built inside the oxygen…caused the explosion that crippled the Odyssey. It was a minor defect that occurred two years before…”