I decide to walk to the docks. I know the ship is there ready to leave and never return. I want to see it for myself and reflect on its crew. On Friday it will set sail full of friends and memories. This ship will sail out toward the horizon following the same course too many have travelled. I am sad, but hopeful this crew will find their way and reach new shores.
I pause and turn back knowing another ship is under construction. For me it is the last ship and it will set sail once the weather turns dark and winter returns. The last ship awaits.
And so I discover a new metaphor to describe my business reality. Previously I wrote of my own lost Camelot and extra room at the Family Table. Today I stand on the dock ready to wave goodbye to more friends as they set to sail. Our business failed years ago. The winding down to the actual end takes time though (we are an insurance company). My team once stood at over 100 people. Today we are less than 20 people. Next week we will be nearly half that again.
Great team members will be on this ship, each with their own gifts:
- A Ballerina, ready to dance and live life to its fullest
- An Oracle, wise and all-knowing
- An Old Soul, empathetic and caring
- A Man of Mystery, clever yet guarded
- An Irish Storyteller, ready to sing songs of better days
I will watch them leave this week and wish them well. My deepest prayer is safe passage for them and all who have previously set sail.
The inspiration for this post came from listening to a recent TED Talk by Sting, the legendary songwriter and musician. He talked about his own journey to recapture his muse and begin to write music once again. He discovered the answer in his own past growing up in a tough shipbuilding town in Northern England. I invite you to watch the video below to learn more of Sting’s journey to self.
Sting’s words apply to us as leaders and resonate strongly for me:
“Your best work wasn’t about you at all. It was about someone else. Did your best work occur when you sidestepped your own ego? When you stopped telling your story and started to tell someone else’s story, someone perhaps without a voice?
At the end of the day we are all in the same boat.”
I know this to be true as I stand here on the dock looking up at this ship ready to sail, taking away more of our great team and their unique voice. A silent prayer as I turn and walk back to my life as I still know it. The wind picks up and I shiver even on a summer day. Winter will soon return. The last ship awaits.