Try harder, be better - Shawn Loughlin editorial
Something Brussels-area home builder Devon Henry said to me recently – which I then printed in a story about him – has served as an unofficial mantra for some of us here in The Citizen office since we first heard it. It’s made us look at regulations and laws from a new point of view.
Henry builds extremely efficient, passive house-standard homes and his path to that calling was simple. He said that it wasn’t an attempt to single-handedly save the planet that drove him to these building standards, but rather his drive to build better houses.
He said that building a house according to the building code shouldn’t be a goal of a home builder. The way Henry saw it, the building code is a regulation dictating the worst house he could legally build. Rather than doing the bare minimum, he said, builders should be striving to be better.
That perspective put the idea of laws and regulations in a whole light for me. For example, many small businesses throughout Ontario have been wrestling with the concept of the former Liberal government’s Bill 148, the Fair Workplaces, Better Jobs Act, which called for a minimum wage of $15 per hour.
While there are no doubt some businesses that struggle to bring in enough revenue to pay employees at the higher minimum wage, there are others that view the concept of a minimum wage a little differently, particularly after hearing what Henry had to say about houses.
Here, The Citizen Publisher Deb Sholdice has said to me before that the minimum wage, by its very name, is the lowest wage the company can pay its employees without her going to jail. Channeling Henry and his house-building standards, she says that keeping just above the go-directly-to-jail-do-not-pass-go-do-not-collect-$200 line (her principle, my Monopoly reference) shouldn’t be any employer’s goal, though it can become reality at times. The goal should be to find a way to make those higher wages work when it comes to the bottom line, though it’s not always easy.
So, when Doug Ford’s Conservative government swept into Queen’s Park and vowed to roll back those changes, there were some who were happy that they could go back to paying their employees less. However, there were others who have opted to stick with the changes in the hopes of seeing the betterment of life the bill’s authors hoped to engender.
It won’t be easy for all businesses, not the least of which is ours, but like Henry said, it shouldn’t be the least you have to do by law that should guide your decision-making process. Instead of regressing to a lower standard as a default, some have strived to be solutions-oriented and find a way to make the higher standard achieveable.
When I entered high school and we started getting numeric grades, my father (who wasn’t exactly a scholar who encouraged a lifetime of learning) told me that if I need a 50 per cent to pass, anything beyond that is unnecessary.
Not exactly father-of-the-year material, but in a very practical sense he was right. The piece of paper I received when I graduated high school is the exact same one received by students who... accomplished less while at the same school, let’s say.
Aiming for a grade of just over 50 per cent may do the trick, but no one is going to be impressed if you tell them that was the biggest accomplishment of your academic career.
You can bob above the aforementioned Monopoly line and float through life or you can be someone who strives to be better. Never be satisfied and always reach further.