THE IRRITANT, THE OYSTER, THE PEARL

You may be aware that a pearl is formed as a result of the irritation from a grain of sand working its way into the digestive tract of an oyster.  The oyster surrounds the grain with layer after layer of a translucent mineral in an attempt to disgorge it, but instead, a pearl of exquisite beauty becomes imbedded inside the crustacean.

The rubber meets the road on this analogy in five ways.

1.  MARRIAGE

You’ve heard it said that opposites attract.  LeAnna and I have commented numerous times on the role of spouses in marriage.  We enjoy attempting to figure out which spouse is the irritant and which one the pearl.

I’ll start with our marriage.  We’ve been together for 39 years.  She was beautiful when we met, but she is even more beautiful today.  For that I take the credit (bear with me…)!  It is no secret that I am the irritant.  She is the pearl of great price, the wife of Proverbs 31.

We’re thankful we have a good relationship.  It is cause for concern when two grains of sand get connected (spontaneous combustion) or two pearls (no combustion at all).

2. EMPLOYEES

The term high-maintenance is considered complimentary in our organization provided that the motives of the employee are for the betterment of the business.

It is a given that I am a high-maintenance boss.  I wear the badge proudly.  I am demanding, incessant, impatient, and at times irritable, while at the same time attempting to be fair, considerate, and complimentary.

The old timers have all heard me say, “I’d rather pull an employee down off the ceiling than drag them up off the floor.”  The employee with the multiple ideas, the insatiable desire to enhance, the one that is always pushing for more efficiencies, for better pricing and service from our vendors, for being on time for meetings, and for expressing impatience towards the apathetic is the grain that turns those around them into pearls.

It would be chaos if all of our people were irritants, but it would be glacial if we had none.

3.  CUSTOMERS

We have a number of customers that are difficult to work with.  The problem is we don’t have enough of them.  The customer who is never satisfied, who pushes us for quicker ship times, better products, and is intolerant of errors is also the same customer that pays their bills on time and runs a tight ship of their own.  We love high maintenance customers.

4.  BOARD OF DIRECTORS

A board that does not have an instigator, but only facilitators, connectors, and diplomats is an ineffective board.  It is the equivalent of a men’s quartet without a strong bass.  The instigator does not hesitate to turn over the stone that hides the blemishes.  His or her goal is to expose the weakness, and then to buttress them into a point of strength. The instigator pushes for excellence by pointing out the foibles.  Instigators should not be silenced.  They should be encouraged.

5.  CHARACTER

In the same way the refiner’s fire burns off the dross to render precious metal, so life’s curve balls acts as the grain of sand that transforms us as we press on towards excellence, maturity, and a strengthened faith.  While we do our best to avoid trials and failure, we must embrace the paradox that it is when we are debilitated that we are strengthened.

Happy trails to you!

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