The Beauty of Restoration

I’ve always had a knack for restoring or improving things. Whether its people, a project, or an organization, I can’t help but see the potential of what could be. For some reason, that sparks within me a passion to sculpt possibility into reality.

I’ve always had a knack for restoring or improving things. Whether its people, a project, or an organization, I can’t help but see the potential of what could be. For some reason, that sparks within me a passion to sculpt possibility into reality.

Oh sure, it’s far easier to start with something already fine-tuned and in excellent condition. But there’s no challenge in buying a vehicle already in top shape or working with a professional performing at the peak of their game.

My heart always pulses at the ragged exterior and collapsing front porch or the dented, rusty fender. This is because I can see the outcome, the end game of fresh paint and rebuilt steps.

There’s a sense of gratification that comes with bringing something back from the brink of destruction to the grandeur of new life. It evokes a simple joy upon seeing the payoff of my sweaty exertion.

Part of this is the pleasure of exercising creativity. It is the capacity to look beyond what appears in the present to the limitless potentiality of the future. It is applying unique solutions to obvious disrepair, bringing forth imaginative thoughts like a mother laboring to birth her child.

Quite often, you achieve better results if your project’s starting condition is somewhat solid to begin with but there’s no satisfaction like wowing everyone upon unveiling the beauty beneath what first appeared to be a hopeless wreck. I’ve often wondered why I’m this way, why when standing at the dealership I lean more toward the high mileage back-lot jalopy that has seen better days than the sparkling showroom model.

I suppose some would call this foolishness. From an economic standpoint, it makes far more sense to choose the newer, cleaner vehicle. In the eyes of society, when given a choice, most would pick the valiant winner over the weakling loser. So, I guess I’m not normal and I’m completely okay with that.

One of my hobbies is restoring and customizing cars. I’ve had several over the years but, in the picture above, you see a montage of photos highlighting the end result of my Mercedes. It was a labor of love and I basically broke even when selling it but the real reward was in the journey.

I found the car in an old Auto Trader magazine. Yes, I did say magazine. The seller stated their price followed by a timid OBO. I fell in love upon my first test drive. Not that it was an amazing vehicle; it wasn’t.  The engine was in disrepair, brakes squealed, tires were bald, and it leaked oil…a lot of oil.

The dookie-brown paint was fading and one turn signal was busted. Dents and dings peppered the sides and the signature Mercedes emblem was missing from the grill, boasting only a prestigious hole in its place. I won’t even get into the wipers, electrical issues, or exhaust rattle. Hopeless cause, right?

Not a chance. I pointed out the obvious issues and negotiated a solid deal with the seller, who was quite relieved to see me take it off his hands. Paying cash, I drove from the lot and limped to my mechanic, who shook his head and gave me a laundry list of needed repairs. But I could see what it would become.

While others looked at the rust peeking through flaked-off paint, I saw a glistening quasar blue. As my family scratched their heads, wondering why I chose an old gas-guzzler, I could feel it floating down the road on low-profile tires. My girlfriend saw the leather interior and back seat in need of deep conditioning but I saw…well, I won’t mention that here.

I think there’s something deep inside every human being that longs to not only see transformation but to themselves BE transformed. I know that was the case with me. Born into a lower-income family and bottom-rung socioeconomic status, I was well acquainted with hand-me-downs and second-rate school supplies.

Growing up in various government housing projects, I knew what dilapidated fences and broken down interiors did to one’s self-esteem. Worse than that, I felt jealousy toward schoolmates with more, battled anxiety and depression, and had to claw my way from the pit of addiction.

Once you’ve been a wreck and seen the beauty of transformation in your own life, you naturally want to see it also unfold in the lives of others. As a counselor, I use techniques such as reframing faulty perceptions, disputing distortions in thinking, and enhancing existing coping skills. To be honest, it’s really not that much different than banging out fender dents, replacing burnt-out parts, and adding a fresh coat of paint. But the results upon completion are remarkable.

In business, we see the same scenarios: executive boards operating under distorted beliefs about the economy and their company’s operations, nonexistent or weak public relations activities that paint a decrepit picture of their brand, and CEOs big on vision but weak on common sense, driving their business’ profitability into the ground.

And so, for those willing, I absolutely love to come alongside with an analytics hammer and marketing paintbrush, a communication tape measure and a procedure impact drill to see what can be done. And that’s really what it’s all about.

Making an impact. Changing a life, a company, or an old 88’ Benz for the better. Yeah, it’s dirty work. It’s expensive and time-consuming. It requires a bit of frustration, creativity, sweat, and elbow grease. But, man, when you pull back the sheet and see the shine, it’s all worth it to me.

So, don’t be so quick to write friends, family, staff, business operations, or even that rusty truck in the back yard off as a lost cause. With a little love and creative ingenuity, you just might be surprised to see how beautiful they can become.

Until next time, don’t just be transformed: be Kinged.

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