When I was a kid, my family inherited a pre-Civil war grist mill.
A four-story behemoth constructed from full-width lumber, it had a water wheel bigger than a Prius and millstones 6 feet across.
A white elephant painted farmhouse red.
Out of use for decades, it sat next to the highway like an old king napping in a velvet chair.
Over the years, people knocked on our door and asked for pieces of it - the old glass out of the windows, meal sacks...
Finally, someone got the crown jewel: the millstones.
Now with an internet group for everything and "how-tos" a click way, it’s easy to see how we could've sought historic landmark protection or even crowd-funded its rehab.
But the bigger issue was this:
We tend not to value what's commonplace... to us.
Outsiders saw it from another perspective.
The skinny hippie who harvested the old glass panes from the windows did a happy dance when he discovered we'd part with them.
A well-known artist asked our permission to paint it. He did and made prints that are still for sale today.
People who discovered a part they could use were elated to find a solution to their problem.
Eventually, we sold it to someone who planned to rehabilitate it.
Time, money and life intervened and so far, that hasn’t happened. Completely understandable, of course.
Looking back, it was a slow motion dismantling.
If we’d been building something, we’d never do it that way.
Instead person after person came along, haggled over a gemstone to pry from the King’s crown and used it bring their own idea to life.
It was too easy.
And it's too easy to do that with your value.
You’re so close to it, you don’t see how much you have to offer.
Yet when others see what you don't know how to use, they make a swift move and get it.
These aren't bad or mean people. These are business people with problems to solve.
They won't take pains to protect your future or your legacy. Their job is to get the bit they need and get on down the road.
It's not theirs to manage.
You can choose to build your masterpiece and respect its whole value.
When you do, it feels sensational (See below!)
Every day you decide whether to let someone chip away a piece of you.