If you’re familiar with children’s television programming then you probably figured out that the show I’m referring to is Phineas and Ferb. If you’re not tuned into kids’shows then I’ll bring you up to speed quickly on the premise of the show. It’s summer vacation, and our two title characters are twin brothers who are determined to milk their vacation time for every thing its worth. Each day they wake up and set out to accomplish one great feat.
They build a roller coaster, search for Bigfoot, become one-hit wonders in a rock band, host a talk show, build a replica of the Eiffel Tower – you get the idea. They are often helped out by their group of school friends while their older jealous teenage sister attempts to get them in trouble for their actions. All while their pet platypus Perry mysteriously disappears in each episode so he can fight evil as a secret double agent.
It’s a well written intelligent show, the type of kids’ show that is smart enough to keep the parents entertained at the same as the main audience.
In addition to being my kids’ favorite show, I’ve found there are a number of great lessons that can be applied to life, and specifically as far as this blog is concerned, running a contracting business.
Starting any new project can often be a bit overwhelming, even for a seasoned veteran of the business. There’s demo, prep-work, excavating, lining up materials, measuring, grading, running designs by clients, coordinating schedules and deliveries, managing employees and subs, and a wide range of other tasks depending on the project.
Sometimes its best just to dive in and get started. Which is where Phineas and Ferb come in. “I know what we’re going to do today!” is always Phineas’ line when they figure out their task-du-jour. If we as contractors can figure out that one great thing to do each and every day, focus on that one great thing, and see it through to completion then we’re doing our job. And as those “one great thing”s add up, then the project takes shape.
Maybe one great thing is as simple as excavating the footprint for a patio. Or setting a line of fence posts. Whatever the task, its best to identify just what needs to be done and focus on getting it done. Just as Phineas and Ferb’s entire summer vacation takes shape as their daily feats add up, so too does a great landscaping project.
It is also important that we as contractors are excited about the projects we undertake. Leonardo Da Vinci once said “when the spirit does not work with the hand, there is no art.” That positive attitude is important to the outcome of the project. And the Phineas and Ferb theme song echoes this thought. “Today could possibly be the best day ever, and the forecast says that tomorrow is probably gonna be a million and six times better.”
There’s a fair amount of self-help sites and literature out there that go over the relationship between maintaining a positive outlook and achieving success, so I won’t go into too much detail. Phineas and Ferb attack each project they undertake with the unbridled excitement that kids feel when they’re having fun. They’re excited about what they’re doing and enjoy every second of their endeavors. If we as contractors can replicate that passion and excitement, then our projects are bound to be a success.
And lastly, there is Phineas and Ferb’s network of friends who are always recruited to help out. There’s Isabella, the spunky girl across the street who has access to her Brownie troop to help with publicity and public relations. And Baljeet, the math whiz who is often recruited to help with computer projects and engineering. And Buford, the school heavy who provides the muscle behind many of their projects as needed.
The point here is that any good contractor will have a network of associates with various skills and knowledge who are available to help see the project through to its desired completion. Personally, I am hands-on when it comes to stonework, masonry, hardscaping and carpentry. But I’m not an electrician. Or a plumber. Or a painter, a roofer, an HVAC contractor, an asphalt paver, or many other specialty trades that are often part of a comprehensive landscape installation. But I do have an assortment of these specialty contractors at the ready if we need them. A little help is never a bad thing.
So there you have it. Somehow or other I managed to include my kids’ favorite show into the blog. Now if I can just find that pet platypus of mine – Has anyone seen Perry?
** Editors Note: For those of you who are regular readers (I think there might be two or three of you out there), I'll be taking next week off from my blogging duties as I kick back on the beaches of Delaware. But don't worry. I'll be back in two weeks for my regularly scheduled next installment.