When I was in my early 20’s I got heavily into rock climbing. Every cent I earned from whatever job I had at the time went into climbing gear and I got very strong and agile. I loved climbing not because it was easy; it wasn’t easy. I loved it not because it was comfortable; it was far from comfortable. I loved it because it forced me to focus all my attention on what I was doing in the moment. Later, after reading a book called Flow, The Psychology of Optimal Experience, by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, I learned that the state of being I discovered rock climbing is known as the flow state.
When I got my first chimney service job, it reminded me of rock climbing. The physicality and challenging aspects of it, like climbing, allowed me to consistently get into that flow state. Hence, I always thought of chimney sweeping as a kind of sport.
Sports are designed to be portals into the flow state. The challenges presented, the rules to be followed, and the constant feedback athletes get while practicing and competing in their sport all facilitate the flow state. Elite athletes train and practice for years, and what separates them from the average and the mediocre is that they are consistently able to enter the flow state, a highly pleasurable sense of complete interconnectedness, which enables them to perform feats that defy any sense of logic, and to continue to improve and grow as practitioners of their sport. The result is beautiful. Watching a professional gymnast, or tennis player, or pole vaulter at the peak of her powers is a wonderful thing. Watching a team sport when the entire team is in the flow state, all working together seamlessly, is something people pay a lot of money to see, because it is truly amazing, and its so fun to watch that hundreds of billions of dollars flow into the teams of the NBA, NFL, NHL, Professional Baseball, and of course Soccer all over the world.
Chimney service, at the level we practice it, is like a sport. No, we don’t make millions of dollars like NFL athletes. But we earn a good living, enough so we don’t have to worry about coming up with money for diapers or food. We are the premium provider in our market, and our services are not cheap, because we pay our team really well, offer benefits, the opportunity for constant growth, and the chance to get into the flow state.
We work in small teams, so it is kind of like a team sport. But the small teams work together to coordinate and execute more complicated installations and projects. Is it easy carrying a ladder up a ladder, and then carrying another ladder up both those ladders? No. Is it comfortable squeezing behind a dryer to fix a dryer vent? No. Is it pleasurable climbing up in a fireplace to cut out a damper with a grinder while wearing a full face respirator, ear protection, leather gloves, and a thick hoody? No. But do those things launch us into the flow state? YES!
In our work physical challenges, technical challenges, constant feedback, dangers to be navigated and avoided, the need for constant improvement, and the rules of chimney safety all combine to facilitate access to the flow state.
I’m very proud to have created a company with a culture that encourages our workers to be in the flow state as much as possible. Chimney service is an adventure every day, whether we are delivering and installing a wood stove, restoring a hundred year old kiva fireplace, or cleaning dryer vents and chimneys. It’s like a sport, and we have a championship caliber team.
I’m grateful to lead the biggest, best chimney service team ever seen in the state of New Mexico. And I’m grateful that over a dozen people working here are able to provide for their families with dignity because they get paid enough, and they get to do work that is highly fulfilling not just because they are saving lives but also because, working at Bailey’s Chimney is a portal into the flow state every single day.
We’ve had many winning seasons but this year I would confidently put my team up against any chimney company in the country when it comes to safe, excellent, thorough, cheerful sales and service in the chimney industry.
We are about safety, and we are about performance. When you hire Bailey’s to take care of your wood heat needs, you get the best of both.