Bridge Maintenance Professional Wanted
How are your relationship building skills? Do you consider yourself a good relationship engineer? During my career I have met some dynamic civil engineers. Steve Miller the current City Administrator for Effingham, Illinois comes immediately to mind. His precise attention to detail and his ability to communicate his vision in a very unassuming demeanor truly impressed me. I have also met several good relationship engineers. You know the people that you come into contact with and think: that man or woman truly impressed me. They make you feel comfortable, important, and encouraged. Mike Gunn the City Manager from Fulton, Kentucky is one of these tremendous relationship engineers. If you have the pleasure to meet Mike, you will remember the encounter.
When it comes to my bridge maintenance skills, let's just say it is a work in progress. Some of you may relate to this. Just like most infrastructure projects, the maintenance and upkeep is a journey not a destination.
Bridges across our great nation are failing. This should not surprise you. Storm sewers, sanitary sewers, sidewalks, curbs, gutters, asphalt roads, and concrete streets all have life spans. Unfortunately, bridges have life spans as well. To keep a bridge from failing and ultimately being closed, you have to maintain it. Work on it. Invest in it with your time, thoughts, interest, and money. Bridge maintenance is not a passive effort. It requires action. Simply stated, to maintain a bridge it takes intentional effort.
My friends, relationship bridges have to be maintained as well, or they will fall into disrepair though neglect and a lack of attention. If you build it, they will come. If you build it and abandon a relationship the relationship will end up like so many of the bridges spread across our nation. The relationship will close and will deteriorate to a point of condemnation. How do your bridges look?
Let's face it. I have not been so good at maintaining my bridges. I see a few different categories when it comes to relationship bridge activities. You may fall into a few of these categories yourself at different times in your various relationships: Bridge Burners, Bridge Neglectors, and Bridge Maintainers. I am glad to admit that I avoid the first category for the most part. Once you burn a bridge you have to successfully rebuild that bridge to bring life to a relationship that ended in a purposeful blaze. That may be a struggle. I however, have built some great bridges and simply moved on and left them unmaintained. The result is similar. The bridge closes in time. Not because of action, setting it afire; but though neglect. A lack of attention. A lack of maintenance.
I submit that we, myself included, need to make an intentional effort of keeping our relationship bridges open with our friends, colleagues, bosses, teachers, family members, and acquaintances. As you can attest to, maintaining relationships takes effort. It takes investment. It takes intentionality. The things worth having take effort. Think back to those friends of your youth. Did you maintain the bridge? If yes, that is amazing! Celebrate it! Did you burn the bridge? Did you just move on and then without you knowing it someone placed a closed sign in front of it?
It is my goal for this year to make some new friends or rebuild relationships with my old friends. Relationships are so important to our humanity. We will not be successful on our own. I have recently been more intentional about maintaining my bridges, buy I do have a few that have wasted away. I hope this inspires you to take a few minutes to inventory your relationship bridges. If you, like me, discover that you have a few that need some tender loving kindness, it is time to break out the hammer and nails.
Here we grow!