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Lessons Learned From the Hardest Job of My Life

Looking back introspectively on experience of the hardest job of my life as told in my last 7 blogs, I have gleaned the following conclusions from both an operational and  life experience point of view.

Bob and crew


"Facing challenges with purpose and meaning link more viscerally our goals provide the will to set aside present discomfort to do the difficult"

- Bob Brown


  1. From a strictly operational lesson is to sample the soil on under excavation jobs with well-defined clauses for hard dig.
  2. I have certainly found new and more effective ways to under excavate and opened the door on better techniques. High pressure water along with compressed air in the right sequences can be far more effective
  3. Closer inspections would have eliminated or at least reduced the “false summits”.
  4. Some will rise to the occasion when faced with a serious challenge, while others give up and back down. I certainly learned who in my organization those people are. Human behavioral studies show that we each respond with fight of flight. We all know that squarely facing the issues give better results, however, it is easier said than done.
  5. No matter how difficult the challenge, good communication…. even in the face of uncertainty or setbacks is far superior to poor or sparse communication. Good communication in this case consists of regularly giving results, honestly evaluating them, providing anticipated courses of action and reviewing those courses of action all in an open and transparent way.
  6. Having a sense of purpose provides the motivation to do the hard things mentioned above. Sometimes when multiple challenges hit before you can resolved each of them, it is easy to get overwhelmed. Looking at your sense of purpose and motivations and linking those to your goals can help us reach inside of ourselves and do the difficult things. As I have related the story of this particular challenging job, I often get the response of wonderment at my ability to move on in the face of serial disappointment. It became meaningful to me to provide something of value to my clients and the homeowner who needed a functioning place to live despite the challenges that came to me during the job.
  7. I learned the lesson taught to me by my father as a young boy. He told me to “Never ask anyone to do something I would not be willing to do myself”. As I realized how physically unpleasant and difficult this job was turning into, I realized that I needed to lead by example. That in turn became part of my purpose and helped provide meaning and motivation.

Meaning, purpose, goals and motivations will be more explored in more detail on the upcoming posts.