“WE RISE FROM ASHES, GOOD WE FAIL DO,
WE RISE FROM ASHES. TIME CREATE OURSELVES NEW.”
Many family businesses rise from ashes. Multi-generational family businesses recreate themselves. People work harder when their work seems meaningful. It’s our job in Family Businesses to help the team understand – why their work is meaningful, important and a piece of the bigger picture.
Last week in Family Business was eventful. It was Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent in the Western Christian calendar. Ash Wednesday derives its name from the practice of placing ashes on the foreheads of adherents as a celebration and reminder of human mortality, and as a sign of mourning and repentance. The weather turned, the first time in months it was above freezing.
Business, Family businesses must hit the ground running every day. The repetition, the grind is an interesting theme with links back to many great pieces of literature. In Greek mythology Sisyphus was a king of Corinth punished for chronic deceitfulness by being compelled to roll an immense boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down, and to repeat this action forever. According to the solar theory, King Sisyphus is the disk of the sun that rises every day in the east and then sinks into the west. Other scholars regard him as a personification of waves rising and falling, or of the treacherous sea.
The 1st-century BC Epicurean philosopher Lucretius interprets the myth of Sisyphus as personifying politicians aspiring for political office who are constantly defeated, with the quest for power, in itself an “empty thing”, being likened to rolling the boulder up the hill. Albert Camus, in his 1942 essay The Myth of Sisyphus, saw Sisyphus as personifying the absurdity of human life, but Camus concludes “one must imagine Sisyphus happy” as “The struggle itself towards the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart.”
In experiments that test how workers respond when the meaning of their task is diminished, the test condition is referred to as the Sisyphusian condition. The two main conclusions of the experiment are that people work harder when their work seems more meaningful, and that people underestimate the relationship between meaning and motivation.
People work harder when their work seems meaningful.
It’s our job in Family Businesses to help the team understand why their work is meaningful, important and a piece of the bigger picture. This week our family businesses saw some the cycle. The repetitive nature of family business; new business, new team members, some victories, some losses and maybe Spring. Thursday night we saw another phoenix event. The local high school girl’s team lost the past two years to the State Champion. Thursday, that family business closed the deal. They rose from the Ashes. Thursday night, their rock was pushed up the hill. It was a great week in Family Business.