Saturday, November 29, 2014

Guest Viewpoint: Steven Leuck

The following is a reprint from the November/December 2014 edition of The Documentor, the newsletter of the Willamette Valley Chapter of the Construction Specifications Institute. WVC/CSI president Steven Leuck wrote the piece as his monthly message to the WVC/CSI membership. 

With Steven’s permission, I’m republishing his article here on SW Oregon Architect for the benefit of those who read my blog but who do not receive The Documentor. I admire how much he personalizes his commentary on work-life balance and the perspective the younger generations in our workforce bring to that issue. 

Steven happens to be one of the founders (along with Jeff Brown) of Contractors Electric, LLC here in Eugene, a company he has poured his heart and soul into. If anyone understands the value of balancing one’s career with the other things in life that matter to us, it’s Steven. He knows the millennial cohort may be young, na├»ve, and idealistic, but it is also like most every generation that proceeded it. Young people have always wanted to challenge the status quo and question why things can’t be done differently. We (graying baby boomers like Steven and me) may believe we know how things should be done but that’s exactly the reason why it’s good to listen to the younger professionals who work with and for us. 

Here’s Steven’s message: 

Life Balance
By Steven Leuck, President WVC/CSI

Some months ago I read an article re-posted to Facebook by my grandnephew titled “Why the Millennial Architect Won’t Be Your CAD Monkey” (read the complete article here: My grandnephew received both his bachelors and masters in architecture here at the U of O some eight or nine years ago. He felt the article had some merit. I was astounded and dismayed by both the tone and the content of the article—which was, essentially, that the “millennial” architects now coming up through education and into our ranks are not satisfied with much of the old model by which experience has been traditionally gained through the current model. 

At first I was incensed over the article and took my grandnephew to task that he would actually believe what I saw as complete drivel and nonsense. But now, some months later as I re-read the article, I am seeing some truths poking out here and there to which we should be paying attention. The main one, and the one I’d like to bring to our attention here, is that of a notion of some sort of life-balance between our jobs, our projects and the quality of our personal lives. 

While there is quite a bit of this article that I just outright reject and condemn as “stinking thinking” there is at least one aspect of it that we should be paying attention to: life-balance. Not just as it applies to them but to us as well. Those coming out of school now and joining the ranks of the building construction professionals are part of a whole new world that has changed and is continuing to change at a much more rapid pace than we have ever seen in the past. It’s not that they expect more for less—it’s that they want and expect different things to meet their needs in a quickly changing world. We need to be keen to their desires to have some sort of balance in their lives such that they (and we!!) don’t feel as though our workaday activities are sucking the life out of us. 

I am, quite possibly, the worst example of not doing better at having a quality life-balance. Recognizing what would be required to get a construction company off the ground during an economic recession, I committed myself early on to spending enormous amounts of time at work and even more time after normal work hours to build community relationships with the end goal of building a successful business. We have reached most of our goals during these first four and a half years so far. But at what cost? At the time we started out, my wife and I were empty-nesters and we mutually agreed that this would be a good time for us to start a business, because the need to have me at home was not as great as the need to have me working our business plan. Now that we’re raising a grandchild we have to adjust this thinking—drastically. 

The new upcoming generation (now officially known as the “Linkster” generation) has a much different outlook on what they need for life-balance than many of us did when we started out. Some things remain and always will but we need to listen to what they’re saying to better understand them. Do we know what it is they’re really asking? How do we respond to them? Can we apply these things to ourselves and our own situations? 

I’m not saying I have the answers. But take a moment and read the original article. As you do, try doing so through a different pair of colored glasses. Try seeing it from the view point of someone just starting out and the way the changing world is now and will continue to affect them as they travel the road most of us have already traversed. See if you can find enough in here to re-create for the better some of what we do in order to achieve better balance—for ourselves and our companies.

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