Father’s Day 2012
I awoke this morning to a wonderful gift awaiting me in my email inbox, perfectly anticipating Father’s Day. My eldest sister, who currently resides alongside her husband in Thailand, had forwarded me a blog post entitled “Living Life with Open Hands“. Her link led me to a beautiful piece of writing which described precisely how my time spent amongst my youngest children makes me feel. It reminded me that I might forget how my wife and children may be feeling when I’m too immersed in my work to fully participate in the joys of life with them. It reinforced for me the reason I work so hard, but more than that, the story reminded me that being with my family, and ensuring that is my top priority, helps me to be not only a better father and husband, but also entrepreneur, leader and ultimately, a better person.
When I find others of a similar mind, those who believe truly that family comes first, whether in the business world, academia, or any field for that matter, I instantly bond with them. It is always easy for me to enjoy working with people who love their family because they understand when difficulties arise in business, like at home, there are right and wrong ways to “parent”. Those that never learn this lesson at home, whether with children of their own, or as children themselves, can act juvenile, behave like bullies, and well, all partake in those actions which damage business and bring negativity to our world. We’ve all had enough of that.
This brings to mind my partner I have in our latest business adventure. Through our collaboration with Michael, our company will provide the only purely Canadian Private Cloud in North America. But what I love about working with Michael is not the opportunity we have in bringing our organizations together. Rather, it is the fact that the first thing we talk about every day is our families. Then we think about our employees that have families – how they are doing, in particular, those who might be having some difficulty with their health or challenges at home. Only after these topics of discussion do we get down to business. This is what you’d expect from a man who has been happily married for 35 years with a family he adores.
The man who sticks it out with his family – who acts as a Dad who understands and listens to his children at all stages of life- this is the man who will listen, understand and be successful in all facets of business and life. As is to be expected, in this new venture with Michael, we face the typical challenges that come with constructing and completing a massive project like Canada’s Private Cloud. Of course, we must discuss and come to agreement on these issues. Business will always present challenges – as will family. I connect with Michael because we both would always prefer to focus on what really matters: why we are here as fathers, parents and family. This is the true “Zone” in life we share when we become fathers.
If you have followed my blogs, or the emerging philosophy behind the 1to1REAL Cloud for business, you’ll already be familiar with the Four Pillars of Process for every business endeavor that 1to1REAL helps build and keep on track. If you have been engaged with 1to1REAL, you will have already been involved in a BIPED (Business in Process Enterprise Design).
The BIPED approach brings technology alive, and explains the psychology of technology. BIPED helps to explain the reasoning behind structuring an organization with Business Process Management, as opposed to the linear, failed approaches of typical systems of yore, which relied on obsolete CRM, and ERP technologies. The paradigm has shifted in a connected world, and businesses now must learn to be more like an involved parents in their markets. Unfortunately, MBA’s, accountants and lawyers have not been taught that being open and understanding is the best way to run a business. What we are left with is a challenge to adapt to these new conditions. Where better to start than with the kind of philosophy that makes a great Dad?
The Four Pillars and BIPED are about connections and processes. Like being with our kids, if we’re connected, even the toughest teenage years can be a rewarding challenge. What truly keeps us more on top of our game and connected than family? What really tells more about a man (or person) than their relationship with, and efforts for their children and their spouse, and “social” network of true friends (not just Facebook friends – the kind you sit and talk to face to face)?
I am a blessed father. I have five beautiful children – with ages ranging nearly twenty years apart. I have learned more from my children (and of course, my beautiful wife) about the type of person I wish to be, and what I want them to see in me, than I could have ever learned any other way. Fatherhood continues to be a moving experience – and has encouraged me to find better paths in my entrepreneurial career and business life.
My eldest son I have watched emerge as a talented, brilliant man. This coming September, he will be on his way to John’s Hopkins University to work on his Ph.D. He will spend his time there theorizing and writing about our troubled political world, examining the philosophy behind humans as social creatures. His studies will focus upon where mankind has failed itself in all the structures from war to society that we’ve invented.
His sister, only two years younger , has grown into not only a beautiful young woman, but a masterful honour’s student at McGill University. Her grasp of language, how she is able to mold descriptions of the texture of life, have earned her top marks in university. She has been utilizing these skills as co-oping with me this summer here at CMaeON, helping as we continue to build the Cloud Market Enterprise On-Demand for entrepreneurial thinkers.
What are the elements that have formed my life as a man who is a father of five? “What did you do right?” is a question I often get asked these days. As I continue to be amazed at these accomplishments which lead two these brilliant people (who happen to be my kids), I have three more young children to watch grow and emerge into their own lives. Knowing what I did right is easy: I stuck it out, I paid attention, I learned more about myself so I could understand more about the world – I kept in mind the legacy I wanted my kids to have. In short, I learned the hard way to get my head out of the sand and start being present every day – no matter what.
If we consider our lives as parents, and as leaders in business, as people who work in the business world, we must examine the factors which makes us individuals. Rather than looking at the “profit or pay-check”, the net worth statement, focusing on the false signs of success that can be so damaging, we must focus on the human factors. Who do we love, what do we love to do? What at the end of the day makes us feel most fulfilled- a closed deal or a tight armed hug from our children? When we look for the real answers, we will not find them buried in the numbers and figures. Yes, for practical purposes the numbers matter, but the consideration of the loved ones around you matter more. Acknowleding this is how we can all become better leaders – in our lives, with our children and families.
Others will learn from the actions and steps we take, “If” (as Rudyard Kipling wrote), we are lucky enough to lead well. Sometimes those people will follow in the steps we leave behind. People may follow us for many reasons. We may count ourselves fortunate if they take pride in stepping in the footprints we leave behind us as guides. No one is a wise father, or a conscious leader, in their nascence, fresh out of the womb. It takes time to gain wisdom and knowledge. This journey is necessarily, a process.
I’ve dedicated the last few decades of my life to unraveling the mystery of the “process” approach in business. I believe now that my journey has been defined by my own experience as a father. I’ve come to the crucial realization that it is the psychology of technology not just the technology that optimizes the way people truly work and learn. We can see this more than ever before with how readily our children are adopting the amazing technological devices we have created.
I believe that what has been missing in business is the leadership and compassion we find when we think of family. Our responsibility in our careers, as leaders, is to be fathers or mothers, all of the time. A good parent listens and learns a lot more than he teaches.
Greed and blatant self interest alongside disregard for others in business, is what lead to the one of the most erroneous statements ever made, “It’s not personal, it’s just business”. A foolish idiom, the philosophy behind this claim has lead to many law suits, greedy acts, and thefts, such as that we are currently experiencing, of our software and intellectual property by an arrogant CEO. It is a sad situation created by men who never understood their responsibility to others. These are the people (men and women alike – there is no gender here), that the tabloids are filled with – families, as well as businesses, are devastaed by their actions.
The truth is, “If you’re a jerk, careless in your business life, you’re a careless jerk” Work is where we spend much of our lives. Whether you are the coach, or part of the team, “If” you’re not working with the team – “If” it’s just a J.O.B. (as I’ve written before) to you, as an owner, the boss, a manager, worker, or, a father, – where your own “space” and time, profit or paycheck, is all that matters, “If”… “it’s just business…” to you, and you feel justified to act that way, well, you’re not connected to the reality of life and you’re probably not living a good one.
As I read the wonderful post which catalyzed my thoughts about what makes a father, and as I consider the works of Rudyard Kipling written over 200 years about in 1895 – I realize, we have had plenty of time to learn these lessons. I imagine all those things that made me most happy with my children, most proud as a Dad and Daddy –what makes me smile the most at home and at work, is when I am in touch with the people around me.
Our mission to tie these two inextricable parts of life together is manifest within the Four Pillars of Life for 1to1REAL Business &1REAL Family. Why is this our mission? Because our lives are bound between what we do for a living, to make a life, and who we live it with. Our family, our friends, our society, our responsibility – that is our work. There are only really Four Pillars we need to remember in life:
The Four Pillars of Life:
Family: What is our “Zone of Excellence” – what makes us who are at the most fundamental level? Family. Think about it – without a family, you would not be here.
Work: This is where we collaborate, we “Huddle with our Team” – our workplace is where we make a living and a life with the others in our organizations and the society we affect.
I recently read a statement by Victor Frankl from his wonderful account Man’s Search for Meaning that asks a question that goes something like this – Are you hear to make a living, or to make a life? It is not what we expect from life, but what life expects from us that makes us matter as we walk this earth.
Fun: Taking a “Time-Out” at any time, a moment during your work day, a weekend, a vacation – just a laugh in the middle of the day, when there seems to be only crisis, seems to solve many a problem. Fun is our true recycle bin for our energy – for living more fully.
When we release ourselves to the magic of living, to enjoy a moment of our children’s lives, or to sail on the water, rush down a mountain on skis, throw a ball or just run wildly or lay on the grass, we find the fun in life. Enjoy the magic of nature. The world is amazing, and it is why we most desperately need to protect our environment for our children.
Fun is what keeps us creative and alive. Always have fun and, even at the most stressful times, the release will emerge in the magic of being alive. Again, Victor Frankl’s had thoughts on this – as a man of extreme circumstance having survived the Holocaust, Frankl taught how, in a place where there was no “fun”, only tragedy and death, even a moment’s view of the sun can create a reason to live.
Freedom: Stop. “Re-Group” – look around. Do this as often as possible. Whether it is meditation on a daily basis, or just a moment once a month in solitude. To discover the meaning of true freedom, the freedom to choose our next step, the freedom to be who we are (no matter how difficult our circumstance), the respect and understanding that we give that others in the world, this is the end game of understanding.
When we stop long enough to understand where we have been, we can’t help but make better decisions on what it means to be free and to choose our steps most wisely.
I wanted to write this on the eve of Father’s Day because, as a father who has been a driven entrepreneur and worked “too much” on many an occasion, I’ve only recently been able to find my own Four Pillars of Life. I’m working on this more and more each day.
Of course, my hope is that my life’s work, 1to1REAL, particularly its most recent Cloud capable version for businesses, and, perhaps, a variation called “1REALFamily”, will connect with working people with all parts of their lives. My goal is that it will be able to assist who need a better way to plan and balance those most important events in our lives, we will begin to find the true integration where the technology that we carry in our smart phones, our notebooks and laptops, will help us begin to support our Four Pillars of the “Process” of “Life”.
Call your Dad, hug your Mom – shake the hand of the men you know who are fathers (and all the Mom’s out there who are both mom & dad).
Happy Father’s day!
PS: And, to my Dad, where ever you are up there, I miss you and love you Dad. Thanks for giving me this life