I’ve lived in my current house in Wexford for the last 16 years. We decided to move for many reasons, after spending most of my life in Dublin. Not least of these was that if our family ever grew, we would be squashed like tinned mackerel into our previous house, while we would be able to afford something a bit bigger outside of Dublin and its crazy house prices.

The house we moved to was built in the early 1960s and while there have been changes made to bits of it over the years, much of it is as it was when first built 55 years ago. As you might imagine, some of it looks a little ‘tired’ at this stage. We felt that it needed something to freshen it up a bit. The problem however as is always the case, was cost… so, in the interests of doing things as cheaply as possible, we decided to see what small thing we could do that would perhaps have the biggest impact.

In the end, we decided to do something in our sitting room, seeing as that is where we spend much of any time we have to relax. The room is painted a cream colour all round – pretty safe, nothing whacky. Our great re-decoration decision, made after years of watching Grand Designs, was to put wallpaper up on one wall in the sitting room. Not in the whole room, just on what I now call, ‘our feature wall’.

I mentioned in a post a few weeks ago that I’m not much of a gardener. The same holds true, unfortunately, in relation to DIY – I can change a plug but you’re looking for trouble if you ask me to put up a shelf. What this meant was that if we wanted anything done in the house, we’d need to get someone to do it for us. A decorator came yesterday morning for a quick day’s work to do the job for us. He looked at the dark blue, tiger-patterned wallpaper we had picked, described it as ‘a bit different’ (which to be honest did make me doubt our choice somewhat) and got to work. By the afternoon, the job was finished.

Last night a few of us in the family were in the sitting room. The curtains were closed and a couple of lamps were on, as usual. But there was something different. The room was not the same. I don’t mean that it now had new wallpaper on one wall, which of course it did; but in an almost imperceptible way, it was changed. Whereas it had been uniform and ‘safe’, there was now a depth and almost mystery to it. My eye kept returning to the strange pattern and the rich darkness, to the texture and the tone, that for the first time seemed to pull the room together into something more than just a place to watch TV.

All of this from a decision after 16 years, to make one simple change. I wonder is there a wider life lesson here perhaps – many of us want to improve our lives, to get better in one way or another. Often however, where we want to get to seems to require too great a change. But maybe we don’t need to jump too high in one go: maybe one small and simple but careful and deliberate change could be all that is needed to make the most profound of differences.


LIFT’s leadership learning process is based on making small changes and reflecting on leadership values, one at a time. This simple process can have a huge impact on employee morale, your organisation’s growth, your family life, or even your own personal outlook. Learn more about the LIFT leadership learning process below.  

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