So I'm trying out a new-to-me blogging tool called Blogsy. It's slick, but not very intuitive. It took me about five tries just to figure out how to start writing in this thing. But I like the idea of the freedom to post from anywhere other than my desktop, so I'll suffer through the learning curve.
I'm going to discuss something that has been on my mind a great deal, for the last several weeks, but that I hesitated to post because it might get me fired. I decided that the necessity of speaking my mind freely, off the clock, was more important than censoring myself... Especially when I take great pains to keep things relatively anonymous here.
I may have mentioned that I have a fairly important job in Corporate America - one that eats up a large chunk of my time. I don't know if I mentioned that I also work for my parents. This presents a problem on a number of levels, both personally and professionally, and is unique only to families that work together. The more corporatized our organization becomes, the less close our family is. I understand the necessity of sacrificing some of the short term personal for a long term pay out. I understand that, in order for a business to thrive, it's sometimes necessary to sacrifice the personality and soul of a business. I understand that, because I've been with the company for as long as I have, some of this "necessary progress" isn't exactly palatable because I'm used to the old way of doing things. I understand all of this, yet I wholeheartedly disagree with it.
I'm going to digress for a moment by way of introducing my justification for disagreeing with progress by way of sterile corporatization.....
The Ex and I split up for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that he was habitually unfaithful. Toward the end of our marriage, so was I. That has nothing to with anything, except that I'm trying to be perfectly candid here. Second only to his inability to keep his zipper up, his long hours at work and too short time at home was a huge factor in the demise of our union - not because it made it easier to be unfaithful, but because we were strangers to each other. Because he was so blinded by material things - wanting a bigger TV, a newer car, trips to Disney - that he thought providing those materials things was enough of a contribution to the overall health of our family. No matter how many times I begged, "I don't care if we live in a cardboard box, just be HERE for your family..." it never clicked. He didn't get that no amount of Mickey Mouse exposure was going to make up for the fact that he was practically a stranger to his children and his wife went to bed most nights feeling very alone.
...because, at the end of the day, you can't take the toys or the money with you. You can only hope that the life you lived was a good one, full of happy memories and traditions that you pass down to each generation after you.
So, I feel similarly about my relationship with my parents as I did toward the end of my marriage. My parents are simply incapable of shutting off work... Ever. Despite my mom's grousing that my step-dad never. stops. talking. about. work. EVER... Neither can she. It's almost as if she's developed Stockholm syndrome. Not that I mind TALKING about work off the clock, actually. I take a great deal of pride in what I do each day, and in the contribution Our work is making to society. But I do mind that my parents won't stop acting like my employers, no matter what time of day it is. So I avoid any non-obligatory function, to avoid playing family with my bosses.
Conversely, they almost systematically shoot down any idea I have about innovations or changes to the business model (while we're at work) that I bring to the table - because I'm the daughter (though they never say that out loud. The fear of perceived nepotism is strong). "When you have your own business, you can run it anyway you want..." except that this IS my business, too. I was there at the very beginning - going without, making sacrifices, too, because all the money was sunk into the business - but my part of the history is consistently wiped out from the story. I find myself reverting to daughter mode... And not just daughter mode, but TEENAGED daughter mode, because I'm incredibly frustrated with the lack of value they place on my current role and past contributions. And maybe, just maybe, if they won't value my role as their employee, they'll respect my role as their daughter. But no. They use the daughter factor to justify not firing me for questioning them.
Here's the thing: I do an incredible amount of research about business, management, entreupreneurialship, innovations, Google, Apple, 21st century marketing, the psychology of business in the 21st century.... I could go on, but I won't. I do all of this research because I'm in the young side, because I don't have a college degree, and because I want to be smarter about the way we run the organization. I don't pull theories out of my ass because I want to be lazy, or justify special accommodations made specifically for me because I can't get my ass out of bed in the morning. I don't want to change our marketing strategy because I prefer modern art to Impressionism, or stop making so many cold calls because I feel bad for the sales reps. I want to make changes that will allow our organization to flourish and grow - despite the economic climate - and be an innovator across the board. I want our competitors to say they're "the (our company) of..."
I want our organization to operate in such a manner that the human element is the first factor - and not just the paycheck part of the human element, but the HUMAN side. The mental side. The "it takes a village" side. Google is successful because they didn't lose sight of the fact that human beings are what make or break a company. They demand a high caliber of work from their employees, but they also give a tremendous amount back to them. Steve Jobs was an asshole, but Apple gave back to its employees. Ditto for Microsoft, Twitter and Facebook.
My point in all this is to say that I have no relationship with my parents anymore. I don't know if my mom is healthy right now. I don't know my step-dad's thoughts on the current GOP race. I don't know if they're getting along these days or how the new housekeeper is working out. They don't know that I'm writing a book or that I'm having one of my best creative runs ever. They don't know that their grandsons are going to Legoland - courtesy of The Boyfriend™'s boss.
While it's fairly common for adult children to not be particularly close with their parents, that was NEVER the rule for generations of my family. My parents' decision to cut the personal side out of the business has cost us our close relationship and, to a fairly large degree, our family. The things we took pride in before have been replaced by our race to be as corporate as possible. What makes it worse is that it's not even making us more successful... It's just making us more busy.