Once upon a time...
February 4th, 2020
ONCE UPON A TIME THERE WAS A COMPANY. She was old, very old… by her looks she seemed modern; they had updated her processes, her image, her products… but she felt old. The management style and the practices of the past that once made sense did not take her anywhere now. That was not living, it was just surviving. Melancholy ran through her corridors and sometimes she only wished they let her die. Thus she could rest.
Her heart… (yes, I know you are now going to say, heart?, it’ can’t be! That’s impossible!, companies DO NOT HAVE A HEART! … but yes, she did. In fact, they all do. We don’t see it because we have not learned to look and we have forgotten it. But there it is). Her heart felt it was not her time to go. Not yet, anyway. Time and experience had granted her the virtue of wisdom. Old and wise… that was her. She knew her value and her greatest desire was to show the world her true gifts. She had something better to offer. She waited for the right person.
–If not –she thought– I’d rather disappear forever.
It was one of those moments, when she lost confidence in herself and in her executive managers, when she heard the news and felt happy: the arrival of a new CEO and President (she had had a hard time getting used to all those abbreviations, two hundred years ago it was simply «the boss»). Her doubts galloped into oblivion as she excitedly wondered if he would be that right person. She was eager to welcome him. Like so many others who had come before him, she knew he would come with the strength and determination of a lion and the desire for new challenges of a courageous adventurer.
The transfer of both the power and the legacy from one generation to another was an important milestone. At the beginning, when she was still young, everything was easier. But eventually conflict arose. Not all descendants got on well. The temptation to accumulate authority and wealth, the social and cultural requirements of their time, external influences… had taken their toll on the family and also on the large corporation. In so many years there had been tears and laughters, bankruptcies and great achievements, breakups and expansion… fascinating cycles and long journeys through the dessert.
Be that as it may, that was her story. Unique. And it had brought her here. Se was still alive and she was well known. A role model to the world. A legendary brand. A fabulous history. As in good families or families that are good, it did not matter who she truly was… she had to seem perfect. That was her light and her burden.
She tenderly remembered all of those who had taken charge of the business. She quickly sensed their energy and intentions. Over time, she had learned to love them, not in vain it was thanks to them she existed (it is true that if she could have she would have given more than one a good telling-off and would have sent them home with a kick-in-the-pants). But she was their creation and somehow she felt her protector. They began their mandate with such enthusiasm, a renewed vision, plans and expectations, with the ambition of a child who just has been «promoted» to the category of man… After that everyone did what they could.
–How many memories! –she thought.
Some of them had great ingenuity and focused on innovation. Others were sagacious (or lucky) and knew how to be in the right place at the right time. Others said «yes» to unhappy marriages to guarantee powerful clients. There were those who knew how to find the best professionals who made the magic and beauty of the products possible. Others did… well, what they had to do.
The first son, the second… the first son of the first son, the second son of the third son… the husband of the first daughter… the son of the son of the son… they learned how to work together («Board of Directors» they call it now) and after a while the non-family executives arrived. It was long before finally they, the women, also arrived (daughters, cousins, nieces…), the great excluded from the line of succession and business management. Everyone assumed the responsibility of keeping the company afloat, of improving the legacy. And she could feel a deep pain hidden somewhere inside their hearts (yes, they also have a heart).
Soon she realized that loyalty guided their lives but for some reason they did not feel free, she could see it in their eyes. Some of them were trapped in the family fortune, tied for life to honor or debt covenants, dependent on the inheritance conditions… maybe they did not want to be there, some even hated her. They all had talent, yes, but she felt that only a few truly enjoyed that boat. Most dreamed of leaving for new destinations, living their own adventures, being themselves.
«Honoring the legacy», the decree by excellence that seemed to have filled their life with a purpose. It was their duty. But she knew them well. She knew that by doing so they were looking for something more. The approval and appreciation of a father, the love of a mother, peace between brothers, a secure future for their children… with the purpose they justified their sacrifice. Hence their pain.
And behind all of them, HE. The first one. The founder. A strong and brave man. Curious and challenging, he decided to open a new path and not following what his parents or society had in store for him. Step by step he carved himself a future with which to honor his own. He could have a life his ancestors could not.
–How ironic! –she realized–. That freedom came with a price that has tied his descendants to the legacy I represent. They are still paying for it and that is the reason why they are not completely happy and I am not as bright as I should. And neither are they.
She wanted the day of inauguraron to come.
–Will it be him? –she asked herself–.
He, She, it did not matter. It will be the right person, the one who sees that time has come to release that burden, the one who finds out that misunderstood honor and loyalty leads us all to death. They keep us anchored in past. I wish they can finally leave all that behind.
She knew the way. She wanted to live. Her heart beat. Old, wise and beautiful.