Life is at the same moment both beautiful and tragic. A broken robin’s egg that I spotted during my run today reminded me of that truth.
I spent a portion of my professional life with a great team of people who courageously joined together to launch a new company, then nurtured and grew it spectacularly, then struggled to keep it going during cataclysmic market changes and then ultimately shuttered it. And while there might be tendency to see any shuttered company as a failed experience, the truth is that it was 8+ years of both beauty and tragedy. It was an experience that those of us who shared it together would not trade for anything, because it was incredibly meaningful. Together, we built an ensouled workplace.
Meaning is found when we bring together the beauty and tragedy of life, refusing to artificially bifurcate the two and instead view them together in oneness. Because beauty and tragedy reside together in our work experience, work can be incredibly meaningful.
What does the robin feel when she returns to the nest to find her eggs gone?
When you announce the shuttering of a company, people experience tremendous anguish. Of course tears are shed, some people nearly hyperventilate and others almost stop breathing and confusion reigns in every head in those first few moments after the bomb is dropped. And if you have created an ensouled company as we did, the tragedy will seem even greater because what is lost is not merely a paycheck, but also lost are friendships, common vision and you fear, “I will never be lucky enough to work for a company like this again.”
Next year, the robin will carefully build yet another nest. She will lay her eggs and defend her young from her enemies. And what encourages me most is to know that she will not have lost her song. As she stands guard over the new nest, she will sing full-throated above her new joy.
One of my ex-workmates, a senior manager, posted on our Facebook alumni site recently, “I hope I can infuse all the great qualities of our old workplace into my new company.” Like the robin, the song of ensoulment continues to be sung in new places as our employees build new nests in new workplaces. Once heard, the song of ensoulment cannot be forgotten. It continues to be sung full-throated by those who have learned it and they will teach it to others.