Even in business, family matters!

It has been too long since I have been back here to post again.  The last week has been an interesting one, one that I will not soon forget.  I have been to Chicago, downstate Illinois, back to Chicago, then to Houston, San Antonio, Dallas and now back to Nashville.  All of that in six days.

Family matters in life and in business.  I had a unique opportunity last week to celebrate the birthday of one uncle and one aunt.  One turned 90 and the other turned 89.  Both live at home and they both have relatively normal lives.  My 89 year old aunt even mows her own lawn!

Much of who I am today took root decades ago when I grew up in the central part of Illinois.  I grew up with parents who were both raised in the depression of the 1930’s and my childhood was quite unique.  My dad had four sisters and three of them lived within one block of us.  21 of the 25 children in my generation lived in that neighborhood at one time or another and we never had issues regarding who to play with or where to go when you had a problem.  Hilary Clinton once said that it takes a village to raise a child and I had my own village where I grew up.  Without that village I would not be the person I am today.

Here are just a few things I learned from that unique, blessed childhood I have mentioned above:

  • Sharing is important-we grew up in a blue-collar environment and all of us learned the value of work.  I chose to work two years in high school versus being only in athletics.  On one hand I missed out, but on the other I learned many things about working with others, both at home and in the workplace.  Since we were not affluent, we shared what we had and many of our early vacations were multiple family camping excursions.  We shared materials and we also shared many experiences.  I would say now that the shared experiences are the most important.  Those are where bonding and relationships develop.
  • Adversity is unavoidable; get used to it-So often I hear people talk about how they have been detoured by adversity.  No doubt that some adversity is insurmountable.  I would also say that adversity is a great teacher and we are best defined by how we adapt to adversity, not what adversity we encounter.  My parents both died shortly after my wife and I married.  This adversity prevented my children from knowing my parents, but it also removed the challenge most couples have when trying to spend time with both families.  This also enabled me to forge great relationships with my in-laws.  I can honestly say that my in-laws have had as much affect on who I am as my parents did earlier in my life.  Understand your adversity and then develop a plan to overcome and get past it.
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate-This is one that I have failed at the most in my adult years.  While I have focused most of my communication effort with those I have gotten to know in the post-college years, I have neglected those I knew first to some degree.  This has not been insurmountable, but it also has become apparent to me that I am not as closely linked to my “blood relatives” as I wish I was.  You read before that I am from a relatively large family.  That family has grow substantially and I know few of my relatives past my generation.  The time will come when those I know from my birthplace will be few.  This is something I can work on and I hope to do better there.  In business we also have linkages with people we work with throughout our career.  Keeping in touch with those in early roles is just as important, maybe even more important, than those in current roles.  You never know when you might be able to help someone from the past and they might even be able to return the favor.  Keep those lines of communication open.  You will benefit and so will they.

I’ll end this post today to share a photo I copied while on this most recent trip.  The phrase “the apple does not fall far from the tree” is apparent in this image.  My resemblance to my father (the only boy in the photo) is apparent, and my cousins resemble their parents strongly also.

Keep those lines of communication open, deal with adversity and learn to share with those around you.  By doing so you will be able to reminisce with those you have gotten to know and also be able to share and learn from them as the years pass by.