Over spring break I remodeled my music studio. This is the place I’ve written my last four CD’s and recorded the last two. In here, over the past eleven years, I’ve taught hundreds of students to make music. It has looked the same the entire time. I decided a face lift was in order.
When I was working for other people, I’d heard that a simple paint job or changing light fixtures was all it took to reinvigorate employees with lagging motivation. I thought it was hogs wallow until, while working for a Fortune 100 company that paid its employees next to nothing, I watched it happen.
I was amazed. None of us got a raise. They moved us from a number of smaller offices into a bullpen full of cubicles. We all got “new” desks and chairs. They were new to us, anyway. This was not a better work environment by any means. More distractions, more oversite, less privacy. Yet, we were all excited and productivity rose for a few months after we moved across the hall. It was impressive. I’m not even sure the higher ups at the company were aiming for the bump in productivity. It was just that the company was growing so fast. We needed the extra space for all the new employees.
Remodeling my studio was difficult work because I don’t really know what I’m doing. But, it was a nice change of pace. It reminded me of why I am so happy teaching music. Years of construction work was not only unfulfilling, but incredibly hard on my body. My favorite thing about the drywall business is that I am no longer involved in it!
Although, I still remember driving my oldest son around Omaha and pointing out buildings and homes I’d helped to build. I did feel a strong sense of pride in the work I’d done.
When I was twenty-four, I was involved in a multilevel marketing company. My up line (the couple who recruited my wife and I into the business) decided to get a large office just inside the 610 loop west in Houston. I helped paint the new office. I didn’t feel the excitement or any extra ownership in that office. Probably because I didn’t really work there. I’d show up for the Tuesday night recruiting meetings and the Saturday morning trainings, but I was rarely in the office. I was always out and about in Houston, meeting new people, delivering product, coaching my downline and my customers on how to get better results. That’s where I was happy, excited, and engaged. Ultimately, it didn’t work out, but I had a good time while I was working the business sixteen hours a day.
At thirty-two, my last year in construction, I helped my church remodel a new space they’d rented. It was an old building in Council Bluffs, IA. At one point, we knocked out a wall to make the sanctuary space bigger. The pastor had located the breaker box and turned off the power to all the outlets. I was tearing out the wall. When I got to the wiring for the outlets, I asked if he was sure the power was off. He assured me it was. I tentatively tore out the wiring for the first outlet. All good. I began to work more quickly. When I got to the third outlet, I grabbed the wiring and pulled hard enough that my hand slipped to the end where the wires were exposed. I large spark and a shooting pain emanated from the contact point. I’d burned the pinky on my fretting hand pretty badly.
It turned out, the previous tenants had used the third outlet for the copy machine and, instead of using a forty watt breaker they used two twenties. You live. You get burned. You learn. I finished the remodel with a badly burned hand. I didn’t even attend the first service. I never felt any extra motivation or ownership there, either.
Back to the Studio
The space looks completely different. More vibrant. Larger. I am looking forward to teaching here. I am looking forward to creating new music here. I am interested to find out if the color I chose for the walls really does improve the concentration of my students. That’s what the research I found says the effect is supposed to be.
I am more motivated by the facelift, but I did all the work and made all the decisions. One would expect me to be excited. I am interested to learn whether any of my students become more motivated by the new look of their learning space.