Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness

October 18, 2013

I have taken quite the respite from my blogging activities, despite statistics that showed a growing readership.  For whatever reasons, I felt the blogging juice just didn’t justify the squeeze.  I wrote of topics ranging from referral sales, to customer service, to ultra-marathon running in an attempt to draw readers in.  Well, this blog post is different. 

I recently ran the “Running  With The Buffaloes” 100 mile ultra-marathon from Yellowstone to the Tetons which does many things to one’s mind and body.  The body issues are irrelevant for this post, however, it was in the mind where this blog’s inspiration hatched.  Somewhere after about 18 hours of running, I found myself thinking deeply of all things, the Declaration of Independence.  As happens in endurance events, once a thought gets stuck in the mind it stays there for a long, long period of time.  My mind kept repeating the Declaration’s phrase “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Most Americans know this piece of the Declaration as it is often repeated.  It occurred to me that one of the great divides in this country seems to be centered on one word that is non-capitalized, unheralded, and glossed over in that phrase – “pursuit.”  There also seems to be a gulf of difference between those that believe they are entitled to happiness and in its absence believe they are “victims” of unhappiness and its circumstances.  On the other shore of this gulf are those who feel happiness is their responsibility, as the Declaration infers to pursue. 

Our country was founded by unhappy people who moved from foreign countries, or from depressed areas within our country, to pursue better environments, circumstances, rewards and “happiness.”  Happiness did not come to them, it was not given to them, they did not fill out a form for it, nor did they feel owed it.  They pursued happiness through their determined efforts, doing whatever it took: relocated, and changed careers, tirelessly labored, dug ditches, built skyscrapers, worked in mines, started businesses, etc. 

Most home builders and those that work in the homebuilding industry reside on the shore of the pursuers of happiness and have ingrained within them the work ethic to give this pursuit a grand effort.  We have clients that in recent years have relocated their home building operations thousands of miles to  better markets, clients that have re-invented their product lines, clients that have stepped across the threshold of being a “builder of houses” to “customer centric companies” that sell new lifestyles and facilitate customer happiness.  These clients changed their current reality on the brow of hard work and fearless change.

Yes, in my 19th hour of running, it came to me that for the most part, we all have our own versions of Life, Liberty and Happiness, but where the great divide seems to be is in our individual definitions and responsibility of its pursuit.  I found it enlightening that I most cherish the happiness that I had to pursue with all my energy, training, heart and soul (i.e. a 100 mile run). To achieve happiness without that investment seems disingenuous, perhaps shallow and short-lived, and maybe even leaves an empty wanting, or feeling of entitlement for more in order to achieve happiness.

While this blog post may not be obviously relevant to the home building industry – it is.  This is a tough and competitive business from builder, to supplier, to labor - we need ourselves, staffs and companies to embrace the notion of the “pursuit” of happiness – it doesn’t come knocking – it must be chased.  It is only through change and dedicated pursuit that our best work, our best rewards and our true happiness will reveal itself.  That’s it for now, I gotta run…. 

Charlie Scott has more than 30 years of first-hand home building experience, much of it in senior management positions with an award-winning, nationally recognized Midwest builder. Currently, he's director of Woodland, O’Brien & Scott for Constellation Homebuilder Systems. Scott helps North American home builders grow their own customer-centric cultures, pursue operational excellence, and increase referral sales. Write him at


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