Last week my father retired. He had been with the same company for 34 years.
That is almost unheard of these days. Staying with one company for that amount of time.
Today, loyalty doesn't seem to be valued like it once was. Corporate management has transitioned to a new era of management style where the sense of "company as family" is lost and turnover is high.
Despite my Dad's modesty, it was revealed to me that he is a rather big deal in his industry.
Amongst the changing tides of corporate cutbacks and general insensitivity to employees, the company that my father worked for threw him a retirement party. That alone was a big deal.
Amplifying the evening were the speeches, including videotaped messages sent in from prior colleagues currently residing in Europe, and the humorous, touching gifts. His coworkers made enlarged copies of past company calendar photographs (from back when they made themed employee calendars to give out to corporate customers-- they are HILARIOUS), a lamp that included a model catalytic converter and a cake that featured photographs of his plants. (The building "plant" not the vegetation.)
The most emphasized point of the evening was that more than being brilliant at his job, my father was a remarkably great man to work for/with. Apparently, my father was constantly espousing that work should be fun, that when people enjoy what they are doing and appreciate how they are treated, they work harder and better.
This is completely counter to the incoming management style throughout most of corporate America today.
Hearing men and women talk about my father advocating this incredible life perspective brought tears to my eyes over and over. I was filled with such pride and love for a man that I realized had this entire work-life happening throughout my childhood that I was completely ignorant of. Not only did I feel blessed to be raised by a man with such a healthy, wonderful approach to work, but I recognized how little I knew was going on when I was young. I suppose that is a normal byproduct of childhood when our lives are consumed with our own schooling and pastimes, but knowing now the amount of pressure and substantial hard work he did constantly, I have a whole new respect for him. Yes, he maintains that work should be fun, but he still believes in doing great work. He was constantly giving presentations, overseeing projects and making huge contributions to his industry.
I am a proud (and very fortunate) daughter.
Since yesterday was also Father's Day, I suppose there is no better time to honor the great fathers of the world. Here's to you.