We’re having our windows replaced. This house has its original windows, and we’ve noticed it doesn’t hold its heat in the winter and doesn’t stay as cool as we’d like in summer. We decided to bite the proverbial bullet to install state of the art, triple pane, energy efficient, brand-new windows. Alas, mother nature couldn’t care less, so this week, awaking to snow falling and a temperature of minus ten, we knew warm sweaters and closed doors would be good companions. In truth, we don’t have a thing to complain about. We are not doing the work. Our only job is to make sure the crew working has easy access to all windows.
Not surprising, I’ve had windows on my mind.
This house doesn’t have the kind of windows we had in our acreage home. When we designed that house, we chose huge picture windows, knowing the view from outside would provide the artwork for the inside of our home. In this house, in the city, we don’t have an expansive view from anywhere. And yet, I’m still noticing the windows have the same effect.
Windows give us a safe place to look beyond. Beyond the familiarity of our home. Beyond our familiar conversations and dreams. Beyond the safety of our well-practiced preferences. Beyond the comfort of our familiar habits and ways of being in our world. From behind our windows, we can imagine things to be different. We can imagine possibilities.
As we’ve chatted with the crew over the installation process, we learned from Amari, the head installer that he, and the other three crew members are from Georgia. The country, not the state. I wondered to myself how they had come to be in Canada, and in Calgary. I couldn’t help but imagine someone in their life, no doubt someone who loves them, showing them an open window once upon a time. No, I don’t think they ever suggested they emigrate to Canada to learn to install windows. Rather in my imagination, I see them opening the window of opportunity by encouraging them to pursue adventure. I imagine that throughout their life someone, or much more likely several people, opened windows by noticing their gifts, by encouraging them, by believing in them, and by wanting for them, all the possibilities in the world.
When the crew was installing my office window, I heard Amari, who was working outside, go into the office to talk to Tadis, who was working from inside. From what I could understand, Tadis is new to this work. He was doing something incorrectly, and Amari was there to make sure the job was being completed according to his expectations. He kindly showed Tadis what the mistake was, showed him how it should look, and explained how to do it. As he was leaving the office he said, ‘You will be good at this job. You need to be very exact, and do everything correctly; this is how you become professional.’ At noon that day, Jim and I offered to buy lunch for the crew. They had been working hard and we really appreciated their work. Jim talked to Amari and asked if this would be ok. The lunch was ordered and Amari went to tell the others. He told Tadis, who replied that he had brought his own lunch. Amari’s response? “You will take your lunch home and bring it tomorrow. Tadis, Jim says you are doing good work. This is excellent for you. Good job.”
This kind of simple interaction happens every single day in one form or another. We are all doing, we all make mistakes, we all need correction, we all need to correct, we sometimes show confidence and sometimes we doubt. In this interaction, Amari choose to open the window for Tadis to believe he could be successful at this new job. It would have been just as easy for him to show his frustration at his new worker’s lack of expertise; to close the window on his hope.
Just like our new windows, which open and close with equal ease, it's easy to both open and close the windows of life. We open windows when we believe in others, when we encourage others, when we reach out to others, when we listen with empathy, when we show grace, and when we persevere when others do not match our expectations of them. Sometimes we are called upon to hold open windows for others when they cannot do so for themselves.
I am grateful for the window openers in my life. I’m watching for opportunities to open windows for others.
The day after the office window installation was complete, Andy took some little trucks and ‘people’ into the office to play with them on the new windowsill. As I watched him line up his vehicles and people at that new window, looking out every once in a while when a car or truck went by, I made some wishes.
I wished that Andy and Ben would always look through windows and see possibilities. I wished they would be surrounded by window openers, people who focus on their strengths, and want the best for them. I wished they would be brave enough to try new things, and when they do, that they will have friends to walk with them. I wished they will be the kind of people who open windows for others. And I wished they could see themselves through the same window I see them; the one where they are capable, kind, and brave, supported, and loved beyond measure.
Elizabeth is a certified professional Leadership Coach, and the owner of Critchley Coaching. She is the founder and president of the Canadian charity, RDL Building Hope Society. She works with corporations, non-profits and the public sector, providing leadership coaching. She creates and facilitates custom workshops for all sizes of groups and has expertise in facilitating Strategic Plans for organizations. Contact Elizabeth to learn how to find out how to open windows.