The Power of a Chalk Line

August 20, 2020

We are redoing our roof as a part of a renovation at our home. I’ve joked that by day, I’m a communications professional and by night, a roofing maven! I didn’t know I was so adept with a nail gun, but sometimes these little surprises in life happen because we engage in different things. Now to all the roofing contractors looking for workers, do not call me! I don’t enjoy it that much to change professions.

As someone who loves to fly into things and sprint through life, the toughest challenge with this roofing job was the exact measurements you need to do a job incredibly well.  Don’t get me wrong, you can get up on a roof and start laying shingles, but if you’re not well planned and not checking in on that plan, you’ll end up with an end product that’s subpar  and it won’t do what it’s supposed to do.

Thus, I learned the power of a chalk line.

In a world full of technology to help us humans along, the chalk reel seems antiquated. This little tool has plastic casing where you have a spool inside with a simple line of string wound around it. You squirt in your coloured chalk, give it a tap, and then run the line out from your measured points on the roof. The idea is, as you lay out rows of shingles, you snap a chalk line (in our case every row of 5 shingles) and you match your top row of shingles to that line which runs parallel to the roof.

I thought, “this is stupid, how badly could we get off track?”

The answer… VERY!

As we worked our way across the roof and then got up to the chalk line, I realized without it, we’d be running shingles based on the previous shingle row. If that previous row was running high or low, you’d swiftly be brought into the reality of the situation by the chalk line – “you’re running crooked!” Without the chalk line, or that game plan to keep things on track, sure you’d have a finished project, but you’d be the laughingstock of the neighbourhood.

I look at values in business and knowing your purpose like a chalk line. You go along day to day working away only to occasionally loop back to your values and your purpose. You may realize you’re off base maybe by a hair. But the more you work and don’t check in, the farther away you’ll be from what you wanted to do well. Yes, it’s somewhat irritating to stop what you’re doing, take the time to check in and ensure you’re on the right track. In the end though, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment because you are actually where you wanted to be when you first set out.

My advice? Regularly review your values and your purpose both individually and as an organization. You will then be able to accomplish what you set out to do in the first place. Next up… installing stairs!