A Legacy of Relationships
By John Lyons, PhD
In 2019, I became an orphan. Unlike many of the young people with whom we work, I was privileged to have at least one of my parents in my life for 63 years. But regardless of our age, losing both parents is a profound experience. My father passed on December 2nd of 2019. He was 92 years old. He truly lived the American dream. He was the son of a migrant worker who moved from town to town to find day work during the depression. As a teenager, he settled in Indianapolis but then his father left the family, and he was raised by a single mother in the late 30s and early 40s. She was quite ahead of her time, creating and building her own business to support her two sons. After serving in the Navy at the end of WWII, my father received a civil engineering degree and took a job at the Indianapolis Water Company where he stayed for 42 years until he retired as the Executive Vice President. Although my father accomplished much in his work what strikes me as most profound about his life is that he played golf with the same foursome for 54 years. He played poker monthly with the same group of friends for 62 years.
Sixty-eight years ago, my father married my mother. She hadn’t gone to college and quickly shifted from working as a secretary to becoming a mother and homemaker, a role she cherished until she was 60 and lost her own mother. To help her with this loss, my father built her a ‘dream house’ in a different town in the middle of a wooded ravine. My mother had many friends in the town they had lived while we, their children, grew up (Speedway) and on moving my father challenged my mother that she might not like their new town (Zionsville) so much because she wouldn’t know anyone. Not one to ever back down from a challenge, my mother went out and got a job writing a column for a local newspaper that required her to interview longtime residents. Before she retired at 84 she had published 1100 newspaper articles about the people of Zionsville and published five books and had been named the Zionsville Town Crier. Everyone in town knew her. And she knew everyone in town.
So, what do I take from these two stories? Relationships are treasures. No matter what our accomplishments nor our accumulation of things, what is truly important in our lives are all the other people that share our lives with us. Cherish your relationships. Invest in your relationships. Be generous in your relationships. That is our true measure of worth.
Relationships are one of the key ingredients to a successful implementation of the principles of TCOM. The ability to make and maintain relationship is fundamental to successful and sustained collaboration. Perhaps we have not yet talked enough about this aspect of our work.