The Second Oldest Profession

constructionI work pretty exclusively in the construction industry.  When I think about the industry, it seems I focus a lot on the negative.  We all do.  In one survey, the only two professions with lower levels of trust than a contractor were television evangelists and used car dealers.  There are a lot of alpha males in the industry.  They are tough and aggressive.  It is adversarial.  It is difficult.  I was talking to a  good friend of mine about it.  His business is creating alliances, and his view was that construction folks create alliances all of the time.  In fact, it is impossible to build a project without some sense of cooperation.

He said to me, “If two people were stranded on a deserted island, the first thing they would do is cooperate with each other and build something.  It’s the second oldest profession.”  That made me think about construction from a different perspective.  It’s part of who we are.  It’s in our DNA.

I grew up in the business.  We moved every 18 months or so because my dad would be on to the next project.  It was an exciting, nomadic life.  And when we visited the construction sites and dad let us ride up in the buck hoist (the small elevator on the side of the building) to the very top, that was an absolute miracle.    Even as a small child, I was amazed at how these guys could take something on a piece of paper and build this thing that seemed to sprout out of the ground.  It was created for people to use, and yet, when most of us walk into a building, we very rarely think of that natural miracle and how it was created for us.

Think of all of the parts, pieces, and personalities that go into a construction project.  It’s far more complicated than even something like the space shuttle.  I think we’ve lost that sense of wonder and miracle.  We get bogged down in the day to day grind of the business and we don’t appreciate the history and the true nature of construction.  So if you know someone in the industry or  you are in the industry yourself, celebrate today.  Make this your construction appreciation day.  Think of all of the projects that are built for us:  our homes, sporting and entertainment events for our pleasure, schools to educate our children, hospitals to treat us when we are sick, office buildings that add to our economy, infrastructure to get us from place to place, process our waste, and give us fresh water to drink.  When you think of all of those amazing things that make our lives so rich and comfortable, you can thank someone in the construction industry.


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