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It is said that marriages may be made in heaven but they sure have to be managed right here on earth. Most of us seek a version of marriage that is perfect, even though the reality is usually far from it. Amy Bloom, an award-winning novelist and short-story writer, rightfully said, “Marriage is not a ritual nor an end. It is a long, intricate, intimate dance together and nothing matters more than your sense of balance and your choice of partner.” While the goal of finding the perfect partner may be an illusion, it is important to move forward with an appreciative curiosity about each other to ensure good personal compatibility and cultural fit.
This concept can be applied to managing relationships of all kinds, even those within the family business. When I reflect on what it means to successfully manage a family-owned business, I am taken back to an incident that has stayed with me for many years, one that significantly altered my attitude from seeking perfection to seeking excellence.
I remember when a cousin of mine had come back from abroad. He was a good-looking and incredibly talented man who was looked upon as an inspiration by the younger generation. When the time came for him to think about settling down, he opted for an arranged marriage, meeting many prospective brides, but was ultimately unable to find someone he thought was suitable.
Upon hearing about this, my maternal grandfather called him aside and told him that he could help – that he knew someone who could find him exactly the type of girl he wanted. My cousin agreed and my grandfather took him to a place called Kumartoli in Kolkata (India), home to numerous craftsmen who created beautiful clay idols of deities.
My grandfather asked my cousin to describe to a craftsman the kind of bride he had in mind. The cousin was quite taken aback; he wanted a real bride after all, not a clay idol. To this, my grandfather replied that there is no perfect person on this earth. Instead of wasting time and energy on finding the “perfect” person, it would be in his best interest to seek someone who makes him happy. He then advised my cousin to find someone who comes from a good family who can adjust to his family’s values and traditions. This was an eye opener for my cousin, and it taught me a lesson directly applicable to the family business.
To adapt and make peace with the notion that nothing and no one is perfect may not come easily for many people. However, relinquishing the idea of perfection for excellence can serve as the key to effective relationship management, whether it is within the family unit or the business.