Life is one big paradox. How do we get what we ask for and receive the best thing for our future, while taking care of the most pressing short-term needs?
One such difficulty is whether to give customers what they ask for, or do you challenge them and give them what they need to create low carbon construction?
This dilemma, to stick with what’s easy or to make fundamental change, exists across the construction industry. But if you break it down, it exists within all of us as people too.
We are all in a place where we know what is comfortable, what feels right, right now and what our quick wins are.
But how many of us have reflected back on our lives and thought: ‘I wish I had spent more time with the kids’?
Or, ‘I wish I’d have kept up with that hobby at school’. For me, it’s playing the piano.
My Mum used to nag me to keep it up but there was always something else to distract me. If I had listened, I could now write and play a song to my wife, which would be mutually beneficial. But I don’t have that level of mastery, so my wife has to make do with ‘chopsticks’ or ‘happy birthday’ played with one finger.
But seriously, do we want to look back in 10 or 15 years and think, ‘I wish I had paid more attention to climate change, or ‘I could have done more’?
Do we want to regret our focus on the short-term simply because it was more challenging to look at the long-term?
The best decisions we make now should be the ones that focus on the future and ensure the places we create today will still work in 20 to 30 years.
That’s why I believe we need a different sort of decision making to thrive in construction.
One that takes a little more time, a little more research and a little more patience. It’s the kind of decision-making that knocks profit off its pedestal and replaces it with people and the planet, with fairness and equity.
So how do we as individuals say ‘stop, this isn’t working’?
We can challenge the notion that profit comes first. We can challenge the idea that construction should be about quick wins. We can say to our bosses and our companies: ‘let’s find another way, let’s think about the long-term’.
You might say, ‘what can I achieve alone’? Or ‘it’s too risky, I might lose my customers’.
And you might say, ‘it’s easy for you to say, Darren, you have your own company’.
But our customers are like-minded people. They want to create a safe and sustainable world for their families, friends and the next generation too. We don‘t need to fear raising our heads above the parapet, or demanding change.
History has shown us that it takes individuals to come together and build a movement for change. We can’t wait for governments to do this, it’s down to us. So, let our challenge as individuals be: where should I start first?
How would it feel to inspire your customers? What would it mean to you? To them? It is down to us to show there is a different way of working that not only protects the planet but protects people too. It is down to us to create exciting new ways of working.
The question is do you want to look back in 15 years and know you did all you could, that you made a difference? I do.