A Strong Foundation
A little more than two years ago, I moved my family into an old farm house. At the time there were a whole bunch of reasons for the move but at the top of the list was simply the fact that the old home had character. From the iron wind gauge on the top of the roof to the rustic tire swing that hung from the front yard apple tree, there was simply a whole bunch of little things that collectively made me feel as if the place had a lot to share. Of course, the house–constructed shortly after the Civil War–has had a lot of time to collect its possessions.
I have always been smitten with the home’s origins, which in short is about a carpenter who returns home from war and builds his wife and daughters a home. Every once in a while, if my kids catch me at the wrong moment, they can end up bearing the brunt of my fascination. The other day my youngest son found me in the basement staring at our stone foundation.
“What are you doing?” he asked.
“Did you know that these stones were put here right after the Civil War,” I said dramatically, as if the stones had actually fought in the war itself.
He sort of shook his head and went back upstairs.
Typically speaking, my children fail to appreciate the novelty of our home and even today wonder why they gave up the modern conveniences of 20th century architecture. But, for me, there is something that is simply awesome about the old house. I can’t help feeling that it represents so much of what is missing in today’s fast paced, over-stimulated world. The care, detail and sheer thoroughness of how the home was built is meant to be examined and respected. Just the fact that the home stands as solidly today as it has for nearly a century and a half is a testimony to the individuals that were part of its construction. It does not seem hard to imagine the pride and commitment these tradesmen had for their craft, business and community. I am certain that for these folks there was a clear understanding of the correlation between reputation and success.
Every week I get the chance to meet with a host of companies. It is without a doubt one of the most interesting elements to my job. Like fingerprints or zebra stripes, no two companies are exactly the same but in some ways what is common among successful companies is easily identified. Certainly, among all of them is a solid foundation. Strong building blocks that everything else can rest upon. In business, a foundation is not built on stones but on principles that provide a clear understanding that there is no substitute for hard work, pride and commitment.
There’s always more to success, but it has to start somewhere. For me, the basics seem like a good beginning.