My Favourite High School Subject Is Irrelevant Now
It’s amazing how fresh certain memories from over 40 years ago can seem when you allow yourself a trip down memory lane as you reflect back on your past.
The two main words that this week’s blog subject hang on, chemistry and geography, just happen to be two of the more memorable courses that I think about when I flash back to my days at St-Thomas High in the late 70’s and early 80’s.
Just a couple of weeks ago in Curiosity as the Antidote to Assumptions in Families I also harkened back to those days, but there I’d noted a favourite teacher, without referencing the subject he taught.
Back in those days, I was expecting to eventually succeed my father in the business he had founded, and so any idea that I might someday be advising other business families was far from my radar.
Looking Forward to Geography Class
There was something about geography class that I really gravitated towards, and I guess Mr. Dunning and his quirky style had a lot to do with it.
I really don’t recall anything specific that we learned, but the memories of my time in that class are mostly positive ones.
I suppose that having a person at the front of the room who has the right attitude helps a lot, and now that I am often the person who leads a group, I appreciate what goes into that.
Never Expecting to Need to Understand Chemistry
Chemistry class with Mr. Legros was less fun.. I recall only a couple of things about my time spent in those classes.
The first was that I could never imagine any scenario where the subject I was being forced to learn would ever serve me later in life in any way whatsoever.
Four decades later, I’ve still not figured it out.
The other thing I recall was that our teacher would be speaking to the class while writing something on the blackboard, that was completely different from what he was saying.
The Geography Angle – Inspired by Jay Hughes
Some of you are wondering where I’m going with this, so here’s where I’ll throw the venerable Jay Hughes under the bus.
A few years ago at the RendezVous of the Purposeful Planning Institute, it was Hughes who was the first person to name the issue of distance pre-empting people from spending quality time together as an problem of “geography”.
He’d begun to have regular Zoom calls with certain colleagues and was fascinated by how little drop off in quality there is compared to being face-to-face.
This was before the pandemic, so it was actually kind of new to many of us in attendance.
I’ve since commented that what you lose in effectiveness when meeting virtually is more than made up for in efficiency.
The geography “problem” in getting together to meet with people has almost completely disappeared.
We All “Get” the Part About Chemistry – In Theory
When it comes to working with the members of an enterprising family, however, there is no way to work around for the question of “chemistry”.
We all know what I’m talking about, and it’s easy enough to understand. “Let’s meet and see what the chemistry is like.”
While the chemistry we studied in school could be used to predict what will happen when you combined two things, combining people together and knowing in advance what’ll happen is another matter.
As someone who often works with all the members of the same family, it’s crucial that I have “good chemistry” with every single one of them, or else I really won’t be able to do what I need to do for them and with them.
Chemistry Can Be Tricky in Practice
In practice, this can get very tricky at times, and I always need to tread carefully.
I need everyone to believe that I am there for them and that I get them, and I need to have their respect and earn their trust.
At the same time, they’re typically trying to get me to take their side in matters, so I need to walk a fine line because the person on the “other side” is also doing that. See Choosing Sides in a Family Business
I need to be wary of any sparks that might set the laboratory ablaze!
My New Stock Answer
When people ask me if I work with families who aren’t located near me, my new stock answer is:
“Of course, chemistry is much more important than geography”.