By Jeff Becraft
During the summers of my college years, I worked as a laborer for Glen Construction company. Glen was a commercial general contractor.
For two summers, I was on jobs that were just starting. That meant we were involved in digging and preparing the footings. Backhoes would actually dig the original hole and then laborers like me would get in there and clean them up with shovels.
The footings are the bottom part of the foundation for the building. As one engineering website describes them, “Footings in construction are critical, as the footing distributes the weight of the building evenly across the entire structure so that it doesn’t sink into the ground.”
We were building several-story office buildings and a parking garage.
What we were doing was critical to the whole project. For years since, people have gone to those buildings, worked in those buildings, made a living in those buildings, accomplished projects in those buildings, and went home to their loved ones from those buildings. Why? Because they were safe. They were solid. They had a firm foundation that rested on those footings.
Working on those footings was not an enjoyable job. It was hard and it was hot. One summer, we were hitting 100 degree days and down in the holes, there was no breeze… whatsoever. At least up on the ground, you would catch a little breeze of refreshment every once in a while but no such thing down in the holes for the footings.
And yet it was necessary in order to build the rest of the building. Even today, if we drive by one of those buildings, I will point it out to our kids and say, “Your dad helped build that building right there.”
If I have a concern for the up and coming generation and perhaps our society as a whole, it would be this – the belief that you really don’t have to establish a foundation in order to experience the greatness of life.
Just one example of this would be relationships… there doesn’t seem to be much of a concern or focus for the need of building a foundation in such things. (That, however, will have to be another email all by itself.)
Back in the day, when the Green Bay Packers had suffered some defeats, the legendary coach, Vince Lombardi, stood in front of the team holding a football and said, “Men… this is a football.” He went back to the basics.
I have mentioned it before in Friday emails about coach John Wooden but he would have the UCLA players run the same basic drills over and over again. They were always practicing the fundamentals. That way, in a game, they would know exactly what to do. They were a basketball dynasty that will probably never be repeated again.
Greatness comes from a great foundation.
Digging a footing, laying a foundation… it is hard work. It takes time. It may not be fun or enjoyable. It may even be agonizing. But this is what greatness is built on.
Going back to the engineering definition, footings are “critical,” and “distribute the weight of life evenly” and “keep life from sinking down into the mire.” The buildings we built still stand. People are still using them. They are fulfilling their purpose. They have maintained their beauty.
That is because they have a firm foundation.
It is a great day to go back to the basics today.
Jeff Becraft is the Interim Director of Our Place of Hope and the Director Emeritus for Youth Corps and has dedicated much of his life to helping shift the vision of people’s lives. Youth Corps is a life-changing leadership development experience that inspires high school students to be leaders in the Midlands and beyond. You can connect with Jeff at [email protected].