Don't Forget to Prime


For the past eight weeks, I have been living in a construction zone as my home undergoes major renovations.  While much of my life will remain in boxes for a few more weeks, major milestones are realized daily: bathroom tile completed, new hardwoods installed, new kitchen cabinets hung, counters being fabricated.

As a result, I am finally in a position to repaint the interior of the house, a significant percentage of which is new or patched drywall because of the walls I had moved to open up rooms and better utilize the 1000 square feet I hope to call home for some time.

But you can't just paint new drywall.  Same goes for sections of major patches that are covered in white drywall dust.  They have to be primed first.

Aarrrgggghhhhh!  As anyone who has done a major renovation would be at this stage, I am so ready for this to be over.  I desperately need to be able to select clothes from an expansive closet instead of a U-Haul box, to be able to wash dishes from my new kitchen sink instead of using the hose on the outside water spout, to be able to hang the art that makes my house a home instead of staring wistfully at it all stacked in a corner.

But the drywall doesn't care about any of that.  Before it will accept any paint, it needs to be primed. And don't even try to save time by using one of those paint and primer all-in-one products because the drywall will just laugh at you for doing so, leaving the product sitting on its surface instead of absorbing it deeply into its pores.  And oh those pores.  Thirsty little devils.  Drinking in primer in gulps instead of sips, forcing you to reload your roller constantly and to immediately revise the amount of primer you'll need to complete the job.  And while you can be a tad more haphazard applying primer than the actual paint, the quality of your prime job will ultimately determine the possible quality of your painting.

People need priming, too.

When you lead a major "renovation" in your organization or a community, you also reach a stage where you just need for it to be over, for the benefits of all the hard work to be savored.  But try to do that without appropriately priming the people, the ones who ultimately have to live with (and in) this new environment you've created, and you'll simply be blocked.  Try to rush that process too much, to use the equivalent of that all-in-one paint and primer product, and the time you do spend will produce unsatisfactory results.  You may get surface level compliance, but you won't realize deeper level commitment. 

Some processes simply can't be hurried.  They require and reward desired results only when the requisite pre-work is done carefully and methodically.  It's better to accept that reality and then go to work within it, then to test it and find its convictions can't be conquered.

Before you paint, you've got to prime: true for renovating a house, true for renovating an organization.