What is the most important job you will ever do? Your main focus in life, the masterpiece you contributed to during your years here on Earth? What will be your legacy? What do you want to be remembered for?
Not long ago, my oldest daughter saw me making my page for LinkedIn.
“Mom!” she said. “It’s SUPPOSED to be for professionals! People use it for business contacts! I’m not sure you get it.”
The thing is, I think I get “IT” better than a lot of people. I grew up with great parents, have five years of college, where I earned a Bachelor’s degree in Education and a Master’s in Learning and Behavioral Disorders. My profession?? TWENTY-FIVE YEARS worth of putting all of that education into action — forming what I call my Corporation.
As defined by Webster’s Dictionary, a corporation is any group of persons united or regarded as one body. AKA: a family. MY family. Barr Inc.
Barr Inc. is a family corporation, born, built, and changing every day. It takes turns being loved and hated by all its members (depending on the day.)
Barr Inc. has its home office in Maine, where its duties are unevenly divided between Junior partners and the CEO. I (as you probably guessed) am the CEO. Our Junior partners describe my role as never listening to ANYTHING my kids say, being solely responsible for the fact that there is NEVER anything to eat at our house, and being the person who will never fail to be there when they need me.
Our main satellite office is located in Indiana, where their Dad (our CFO) resides. Along with keeping us on track financially, he is also Head of the Complaints about Mom Department, co-counselor to our four Junior partners, and Advisor In Absentia for which college classes to take and reminding the Junior partners never to take themselves too seriously.
We also have two other branch offices, located on Long Island, New York (home of our Senior Junior partner), and in Florida, where we find our Original Founding Member, my Dad. Our other founding members have moved forward, to their last Corporation, where we will be happy to meet them again in our own time.
My Corporation has no paid employees, and is an all guts and no glory operation. It IS my first profession and those four people God transferred into my temporary care ARE the corporation I was put here to build.
My second job, which intermingled 12 years of the above 25, was a true passion and extension of myself: Being a teacher. I was a better teacher because I had the experience of Barr Inc. to pull from every day. I loved my students harder and knew them more deeply as little PEOPLE, not just someone else’s children.
See? I get this professional thing just fine.
Moms…Dads…. you may never have thought of it this way, but however you do it, however you parent, do it like the life and death of your Corporation depends on it…because IT DOES! You absolutely don’t do it perfectly, and from our kids’ perspective we are terrible at it all the time!! You may not have the amount of time as some others, but whatever you do have, KNOW that it matters. YOUR Corporation isn’t the same as anyone else’s. It’s always a work in progress, and it’s never too late to build it or to make it better.
One last thing: Tell your Junior partners the stories of their Founding members. Tell them where their grit came from.
Tell them about the time Grandma ate a spoonful of mayonnaise because she thought it was vanilla pudding, and about how Papa fell in love with her in the 10th grade when she took the eraser off of his desk, used it, and put it back. Tell them how you learned to hit a golf ball and why you know the words to the Notre Dame Fight song. Tell them how you learned to love children, and love being their teacher. That’s how Barr Inc. operates anyway, because I believe that’s how my Corporation stays on track, even in the toughest times — by carrying the past along, so it will be here to benefit the next people that God transfers into our temporary care.
What’s in a name? In this case it’s the sum of some magnificent, flawed, strong, and tenacious people unified into one body. Barr Inc.