In the first few years of my marriage, my wife and I embarked on a quest. Our goal: to find a home that was the perfect combination of open space, natural light, rustic architecture, a great neighborhood and . . . affordability. The result of this quest: Four moves in five years.
As it turns out, the kind of home we were looking for is not one that spontaneously occurs in nature, and certainly not within the price range of a young couple just starting a family. But somewhere in that process of seeking, finding, moving and then starting all over again, I learned a valuable lesson. You see, the first time that we moved, we were newly married. We didn’t have a lot of stuff, or so I thought, and I was still pretty convinced of my own inexhaustible capacity for exerting force. I alone could move us. I was the man, the captain of our ship, the dude in charge.
But four long days later, I already hated our new house and all that was in it because I simply hadn’t shown the foresight to secure some help with the move. So when the time for our next migration came, I certainly was not going to make that mistake again.
I called up my best friend and his brand new wife and asked if they would help. They did, of course, but by the time we were done (two days later), we were all completely spent and my best friend and his wife were not so sure they wanted to speak to us again for a very long time, much less come to dinner in our new, new place. I’d like to say that at this point I had really learned my lesson; for our third move I called a couple of young, energetic guys that I had been teaching music lessons to and enlisted their help. They were, of course, willing, but when the day came, they mysteriously had immovable conflicts that prevented them from staying with us for more than a couple of hours. In the end, my very pregnant wife and I had to move the vast majority of our stuff on our own. Again, not a great experience to say the least.
So when it came time for our fourth and “final” move, my very type-A wife finally stepped in to offer some “creative suggestions” on how to avoid the moving pitfalls of the previous four years. This time, we scheduled two half-day shifts with a relaxing lunch between them and a follow-up team to get us through that last little push that makes every move seem to drag on endlessly. The first crew consisted of four young and strong friends who showed up first thing in the morning, having been scheduled a good week in advance, to a welcoming table of coffee and pastries. We then spent four hours moving all of our big furniture into the moving truck. As lunch time approached, our second shift of four motivated and detail-oriented friends arrived, and all ten of us sat down to a nice lunch. When we finished eating, our morning crew was sent home, fed and refreshed with our sincere thanks. Our second crew was fresh and ready to hit the ground running, so we set them to work on the smaller boxes and knick-knacks that require more care than brute force to successfully move. By the end of the day, our house was empty, and our friends stood around our vacant living room, having a light dinner and laughing about how easy a move that was. The following morning, a completely different group of four friends, who are all “finishers” as my wife likes to call them, showed up bright and early at our doorstep ready to go. Within a couple of hours, all the doors, windows, baseboards and cupboards were fresh and clean. All the paint had been touched up and the floors were swept clean. By lunchtime, we were able to close our doors for the last time and head over to a local eatery to enjoy lunch on the patio with our friends.
Aside from this being a fantastic example of the monumental differences between my wife and me, there is another principal at work in this story. Throughout this whole process, the only thing that my wife and I ever had to do was spend a little time organizing, make a few phone calls, and buy a few simple meals. We never had to do any of the hard, physical labor; and in the end, our family got moved successfully, our friends still loved us and we were able to spend the next couple of days settling into our new home feeling fresh and excited, instead of exhausted and spent.
The moral of this story is simple: There’s strength in numbers. For anyone who spends just a little time organizing, a little thought in spreading the workload around and a little effort in rewarding the charitable actions of others, ANY task is manageable. Anything can be accomplished with the right amount of help, and everything is easier when the load is shared among a group of collaborators. This is a fundamental principal about the way that community works and remains true across the board. Whether you are moving, building a business, helping out in your community, or taking on world hunger, having a team of people in your corner is always the best way to accomplish your goals.