Every once in a while, I just accept that I am having one of those times when things get lost. When I say things, sometimes I mean big things and sometimes I mean little things. But it all comes around eventually.
A few weeks back, Diane, the administrator for Key Leadership, surprised me with a great gift. She met me in one of my client’s parking lots, ordered me to give her my car key, and took the car away to have it detailed.
In the rush of excitement, I lost my sunglasses – my prescription sunglasses. Later, after I had breathlessly looked everywhere, I asked Diane to go back to my client to see if anyone turned in prescription glasses that were brown with sparkles on the side. She called me to tell me she had them. Yeah! When she delivered them to me, they were beautiful, but, alas, not mine. At that point, I moved from hopeful optimism to resigned acceptance with a tinge of sadness that, again, I had not paid enough attention to my things, that I am careless when it comes to some things, that I end up spending more money replacing things, thus making them twice as much, effectively, and so on. The same thing happened a while back, when I lost my high-end ear buds for my iPhone.
The story I tell myself is, when it comes to anything that has no sentimental value and can be easily replaced, don’t worry about it. But who wants to keep replacing these things? And why does this always happen in clusters?
Not long ago, the owners of my family’s business—a business with a 60-year history–decided it was time to sell. This time the big thing to lose was the identity I have had since I was born. Our large, bustling family business, whose “name was on the door.”
It has been a large part of my identity in our small town since the day I was born. Though people don’t remember this, I do. We used to have lines of people out the door to buy discount stockings, windbreakers—all kinds of things at great prices.
It was here, working all my life, that I learned to wrap a package fast with brown paper and string, that I learned to add up purchases in my head, present the total, collect the money, and give change without a machine to tell me how to do it. And learned so much more that I now, sometimes unknowingly, apply to my life’s passion as a professional: how to treat people with care and respect, how to assess what was selling right in the middle of the action, how to share the moment when people knew they were getting a great deal, and how to handle difficult people without folding.
The store was right up the street from my house, so home life was always busy and bustling when the store was open and desperately quiet when it wasn’t. Then, as Daddy became older and couldn’t do what he used to do, the store went downhill. At night, I would see my father in the store, sometimes alone, sometimes with only one or two people. There was something about seeing Daddy there, seeing him as things were failing – the business, his health, our life as we had known it. But things change.
Still, the identity of the family business remained. My brothers opened a store and did well, then another, and another. A lot happened in those years, some good and some very difficult. The business grew. My family’s reputation grew once again. And now? The sale? My identity?
Over the weekend, two things happened. Things were found. My glasses were inside a pair of shoes, high heels I must have taken off because they hurt too much. And, as I bent over to untangle the charger wire for my dust buster, there were my ear buds. It’s funny how these lost things just relocated themselves to another spot in my universe as if to send me a message.
And then I got to thinking about my family’s business being sold again…
Am I going to lose what has been such a big part of who I am and how I came to be who I am? Or am I going to find that I’ve learned a great deal from being connected to a family business? And that, whether I realize it or not, I’ve been applying a lot of what I’ve learned to my life as a leadership expert. I’ve learned just as much, if not more, from failures over the years in the family business as I’ve learned from successes.
I never question the why or how of things found. Just quietly accept that I have been given the gift of something lost now found for a moment. Just a small moment of grace and righteousness.