Regret. You have it, I have it, let’s talk about it.
The more convenient way to “erase” regret is to take downfall as learning curve. In reality, it’s hardly any easier. Even I wanted to take that grace and digest it so that I won’t feel bitter anymore, but I can’t. I wish I could. Maybe someday, but probably not even in the near future.
Regret comes late. It’s like receiving an old friend that has left you for dead years ago and you can’t help but to invite them back. People grow old and that’s mostly when regret takes its shape really well. You know how old people always reminisce the good ol’ times’ stories? I bet your grandpa does that a lot.
But come to think of it, though. More often than not, the highlight have always been the good ones, haven’t they? But to me the really bad ones are always the best. They are more dramatic than the rest and usually told with the utmost sincere, often emotional storytelling. And that is why regret is so much more memorable than a lifetime of great stories. They convey the most of humanity in the human; the vulnerability.
When I officially, on paper took over the family business in 2014 I wasn’t sure on how to take things up a notch. The first thing I thought I should do was to get closer on a more personal level with my employees. Maybe we can all have a healthier bond somehow. The family business was started ages ago in 1997, so of course I was bound to collaborate with older people.
Among 5 of my old employees, I’ll tell you about this one man.
Call him “N”. He’s an avid ass-kisser, and was my main field operator. N loves to say good things about my father. I suppose in his world it can save his butt in the long run. Not on my watch.
N was pretty handy to have in affirming relationship with clients, he’s very good with the buoyancy of words. Give me a CEO to crack, N’s the man. Problem is, N doesn’t like technology all that much. He’s good with Facebook, but that’s that.
Often times he comes to my room just to have a chat, often leading to his life stories. He married pretty late, back when he was around his forties. His wife is very young, about five years older than I am when he married her. Kind of weird visiting his home last Ramadhan season and there his wife was , with three children.
I mean damn, I should probably get married, too.
Sometimes he tells me how how he’s worried about the future. He has two cute daughters and one little baby boy. The salary is enough to keep the family afloat, but I know he’s not worried about the present. What if it’s time for his daughter to enter college? What if the others also needs school funding? What if his age defeats him?
He’s not getting any younger. His competency for the company is for sure, out of touch. There is no contingency here. He realized that somehow I’m trying to replace him by doing the field work myself. Knowing that, whenever I was about to do a presentation for a client he’d offer to drive for me. I know that’s him still trying to “earn” his salary.
“It hurts to be an old fella,” N said. I can’t argue with that.
Business rarely cares if you’re old or young. But right now, business demands tech-savvy people. And 5 out of 5 of my old employees aren’t that. I braved myself to ask my friends for advice and the majority suggested regeneration. That is, immediate firing and replacement.
You see, that’s where it doesn’t seem like a viable option. Professionalism is one thing, but I have known those people for as long as I can remember. What are they gonna do without the job?
At times you can’t always rely on peers to give you feedbacks on issues related to business. Every company culture is different. Some are based on familial relationship, very close and personal, hence makes it difficult to act strictly because of the sentimentality. Some others are built upon the strength of raw professionalism, very capable and industrious, but often individualistic. I don’t know, man. These people have sons, daughters and families to feed. I’m not brazen enough to cut that line off. I know how that feels and it’s not good.
More than anything, I want to be a good man, you know?
To everyone. To my parents, my brothers and sisters, my future wife, my future children, my legacy, the Ummah.
I once said to myself few years back; “If I can pull this off, I’m gonna be able to strengthen my family. I’m gonna be able to provide for my employees’ families. I’m gonna be able to do shadaqah and infaq with a more open heart.”
Maybe I can be a good man for once.