I'm a crack expert!

It seems as if I have spent a good deal of time lately dealing with cracks!   Cracks in relationships, cracks in organizations, cracks in communication, and cracks in the roads!

 
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It’s spring in Minnesota and as the snow and ice slowly melts off the highways, we begin to see the cracks in the pavement. During my travels this week, I saw that even the newer roads were beginning to show cracks. As I looked closer, I began to notice that the cracks usually begin where the strips of asphalt come together – the seam. That is exactly what happens in my work!

When people need to come together to produce results, there is a chance that a crack will form.  Oftentimes there are ‘things’ that keep the parties from really being joined together. It might be personality, communication style, values, experience, or any one of a dozen other things that can put a wedge between people rather than helping them stick together.

 
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I feel as if I might be a crack expert! I worked for the highway department in college and spent many hours fixing cracks in the pavement and filling potholes. As an organization development consultant and coach, I have spent many hours helping to fix cracks in teams, organizations, and even fractured egos!   All of these hours have taught me a few things about cracks and potholes that I believe can be applied to humans!

  • Pay attention to where responsibilities, ideas, personalities come together.  That joint/ juncture/seam needs to be strong.

  • Put in extra work to create a strong bond between the parts. Just because they are next to each other doesn’t mean they are tight.

  • Be aware that the swing in temperatures is extra hard on those junctures. The atmosphere can have extreme heat and extreme cold.

  • Notice the traffic! The more people that travel across that joint, the greater the pressure on the joint and the more likely that it will begin to pull apart.

  • As soon as you notice any change in the relationship of the two parts, fix it.  Once the crack starts, it is more susceptible to external forces creating more damage.

  • At some point, the crack can’t be fixed. The only solution is to dig down below the surface, haul away all the junk and build a new road from the foundation up.

So, where are there cracks in your life that you drive past daily and just hope they will not get any worse?  It might not be too late to bring the parts together if you get out of your car and take a closer look. On the other hand, where are there cracks that no amount of “patching” is going to help and it’s time to take a different road?  Sometimes we just need to explore a different path - a trip down a one lane trail can provide a nice reprise.