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Hit The Fairway

Our house in Arizona is directly adjacent to a townhome community that has a Homeowner’s Association (or HOA).  We actually share a wall with the president of the HOA Board, who is a great lady and has been a super neighbor the past 12 years.  Like many HOAs, they have hired a landscaping company to manage their common areas and cut the grass, blow the leaves away, etc. 



On a recent afternoon we asked the owner of the landscaping company if he could have one of his guys blow the branches and leaves out of our yard.  It wasn’t a big amount but there was some accumulation happening.  While we are outside of the area his company was contracted to clean, the branches and leaves that were in our yard were actually coming from a large tree in our neighbor’s yard, the president of the HOA.  The landscaping company owner’s response to our request is where today’s Huddle Up will focus.  His response to our request to blow away the leaves from our neighbor’s tree?

“I don’t get paid to clean up other people’s yards.”

To me, this was a stunning response.  I didn’t think our request was that out of line given that the tree that was dumping debris in our yard was from the area he was contracted to clean each week.  At this point I didn’t think I’d get anywhere by contesting the issue with someone that would have such a response, so I told him to just forget we ever asked. 


After this incident I thought, how does the landscaper’s response apply to our organizations today?  Here are a couple of thoughts.


  • Every successful person we know has done things they don’t get paid for, simply because it’s the right thing to do.

  • Building successful and sustainable organizations is really a chain reaction of sorts.  One decision impacts the next one.  If you stack positive decisions and actions one on top of another, eventually you will have a strong organization that can sustain itself over time.  If you stack bad decisions up one after another, the opposite is true.


  • The landscaper was playing the short game (get paid now) rather than the long game (do the right thing).  We are looking for a new landscaper for our house as are some of our neighbors.  One thing is for sure, given this landscaper’s get-paid-now reaction, we will not hire him nor recommend him to anyone else.  His desire to cash in now likely cost him more money later.  Playing the long game is a much better path for our organizations to build positive relationships and grow over time.

What we are outlining here is a lot like the game of golf.  String together a series of good shots and your end score will be optimized.  A good tee shot in the fairway leads to a better opportunity for the approach shot, which will lead to more greens hit in regulation, which leads to more birdie putts.  In our analogy, the landscaper missed the fairway with his tee shot, which will likely lead to a bogey (or worse) in the end.  In my world birdie chances, even if not converted, are far better than playing from the rough all the time. Hit it in the fairway.  Stack good actions one on top of the other.  Play the long game.

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Phoenix, AZ 85060

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