This is a personal story about what matters most. As most of you know, our family formed a company in 1988 and grew it to maturity over the past 27 years, having sold it to another entity five years ago. My last day with the firm I founded was August 13, 2015.
I always wondered what leaving the firm we founded would feel like. The timing was not my own; though we had planned for this day years ago. Still, it is a step into the unknown.
If you believe as I do that there are no coincidences, that everything happens for a reason, and that there is a God in Heaven who cares about and directs our journey, then you will understand what I’m about to say.
In the end, the legacy we leave is how we treated the folks who we mingled with in this journey. In the company we founded, we always treated folks with dignity, affording them trust and the freedom to excel and become. That can never be taken away.
My wife said “Steve, we didn’t build a company, we built a family”. That is exactly right. The lessons we learned along the way are lessons for eternity…..and the lessons continue.
When you leave a position of influence, there is a natural vacuum that occurs in the mind. For me, it was the unexpected silence. Electronic chatter came to a standstill. The phone pretty much stopped ringing. Many of those I considered my friends (in the company) over the 27 year journey became quiet.
There were a few of those who worked for us over the many years who made an effort to express their gratitude, which was very nice. We love the company family we created; much like our own.
I’m not asking for sympathy as our lives continue to be fruitful, and the new time afforded us will allow us to focus on things that matter most to us; our family, other family businesses, charitable ventures and much more. The life lesson I want to express in this post has to do with our identity.
Is it formed by what we perceive to be a part of our identity? When your friends are only those whose email traffic you vet at work, or the social media, then you probably don’t have many real friends at all. Cut yourself out of that traffic loop for a few days and you will see what I mean. What would you do without thumbs to text? Try this test and see how you survive. More importantly, see how that world survives without you.
Is it shaped by the volume of our electronic river? I was pretty shocked actually to see my river dry up from some directions; but it didn’t take long to really appreciate. If the size of your electronic river is a big part of your identity, then prepare for an eventual drought. This is an interesting topic as books have been written on how to capture this river and store it in your reservoir, and monetize it. All well and good, but don’t let it affect who you really are.
What I have discovered is also a lesson my wife taught me. It is most important to know both WHO you are, and WHOSE you are.
In my situation, I have a certain knowledge that I am a child of God. I believe I have deity in my veins; that I am a part of God’s royalty. Because of that belief, I also believe that I belong to Him, in a way that carries with it a certain amount of humble confidence. I am a child of God, and I belong to Him. That is who I am, and whose I am.
The pride of position (in my case, the CEO of a significant employer), the praise of men (in my case, the accolades that come with positions of influence), and the “fake” assurance of importance created by social media (were my identity grounded in those things), could have sunk my ship. No instead, I recognize the hand of God in my life; that I have value and worth, and that what I have to offer is of a type of value that overshadows the comfortable cocoon the world wraps around you.
Don’t get too cozy if you plan to do God’s work. He will move you from your comfort zone toward a land of promise. He will move you. If you reduce the cacophony of sound (noise), it creates the space to move forward.
Onward I say, on to more important victories! Stay tuned as I express more of the things Ginger and I are involved with as we move from our comfort zone toward the land of promise. We look forward to having you all become a part of this wonderful adventure. Things we have just touched on in our past blogs such as Launching Leaders, The Ministry of Business, and Mycore to name a few, will become front and center in our universe. We are excited to share this journey with you.