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  • Writer's pictureCaleb Gipple

What House are you Building During Your Quarantine?

While reading Joshua Medclaf's book, Chop Wood Carry Water, I came across the following story that I found to be quite impactful. I also find that it resonates with the turbulent times very well.


"There once was a world renowned architecture made famous for the beautiful houses he built. Throughout his career of over thirty years the old architect had designed and built houses with the utmost luxury and elegance. 

Finally, the architect decided to retire and end his successful career. When he submitted his resignation, however, his boss asked him to build just one more house as a personal favor. Although frustrated with the thought of postponing a well deserved retirement the architect agreed to just one more house. Although he agreed something about this house was different. The architect's heart just wasn’t into it and while in the past building houses felt like a joy this time it felt like an obligation. Due to this, the architect cut corners and was passive about the process letting small details slip through the cracks. By the time the house was done you could tell it lacked the passion and luxury of his previous projects.

Once the project was completed the architect went to his boss to report on the house's completion. As he turned to leave his boss said, “Wait! Just one more thing!” Now the architect was frustrated thinking he was going to be asked to build another house. Instead his boss pulled out a small gift wrapped in ribbon and inside the box was a key. His boss said, “We are extremely grateful for your years of dedication and want to give you the house as a token of our appreciation.” 

This realization hit the architect like a brick wall. Without knowing it, he had been building his own house the entire time! If he had only known the house was his own, he would have cared so much more. He wouldn’t have cut corners and have overlooked details. But now, it was too late. "


I find this story to be so impactful because we are all in the same situation as the architect. As we go about our lives whether it is our careers, our academics, or our personal lives we are all building our own house. Throughout our twenties and our lives how many times do we see people like the architect not demanding excellence from themselves. This lack of demand from ourselves, much like with the architect, leads to lower passion, low levels of effort, and low standards. These all combine to result in sub-par results below our true potential. 

Whether we realize it or not we are all in the process of building our own lives.

This is relevant now more than ever with the changes that have been brought on us by COVID-19. While it is an extremely challenging time what we have is a golden opportunity for personal and professional development. Now individuals find themselves with a plethora of free time to work on developing themselves and the usual distractions have been eliminated due to efforts to combat this virus. In a way, everyone now has time to "build their house" more than ever before.

The question is, how are you using this unprecedented time to build your house? While it is tempting to binge the hottest show on Netflix, hop on apps for egregious amounts of time, or doing meaningless tasks around the house what are you doing to ensure you leave this quarantine better than how you entered it? Now, I am not saying you leave this time period with a thousand new projects but instead I am encouraging engaging in behavior that helps you build a beautiful house for your future. What one skill can you develop or what project have you been considering that you can execute on? While it remains unclear when life will come back to normal we know that it eventually will. The person that leaves this quarantine and the additions to "your house" are entirely up to you.

While we may think we are building your career, your family, or academics you are always building your own house. If we realize this, perhaps at the end of this quarantine, life, and career we don't feel the disappointment and embarrassment that the architect did. 

My encouragement to you all is to remember that regardless of the role you are serving in or however COVID-19 is impacting you, you are always building your life and therefore your house. 

Build wisely my friends.

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