The priest delivered a very personal message that characterized their marriage metaphorically as a building, like the grand cathedral in which the ceremony was held. He described the foundation as being built upon the trust they had in each other, linked by their shared faith. Each day ahead was described as another brick being laid upon that foundation, such that over time a wonderful and productive life would be built. He spoke about how life doesn’t always go according to plan, however, such that the bricks do not always align and can be damaged by external forces. In such situations, it is the foundation that holds the relationship up and binds it together.
I liked the imagery and, as I’m inclined to do, I found myself pondering the broader implications of the message for building a business. Anyone who’s been married understands the challenges of staying in sync with another person over an extended period of time. If the foundation isn’t there, the sheer weight of bricks and ravages of time will cause it to crumble. And that is true of just two people! What happens when potentially many more people are brought together to build a company?
At its most fundamental level, a business depends upon assembling people who embrace a set of guiding principles and share a crystal-clear purpose. Those two elements form the foundation upon which the bricks of employees serving customers are layered daily. The stronger the principles and purpose, the sturdier the foundation. It’s as simple and complex as that.
As a business grows, the strength of the foundation is placed under pressure. Even if internal strengths form a superstructure capable of growing tall and wide, external forces are always at work assaulting the business. Employees need worthwhile reasons to withstand these challenges and keep mortaring bricks into place. The higher and further away the bricks become, the more dependent they actually are on the strength of the foundation far below them. If they somehow physically lose connectivity, no further building can occur. That’s also when decay begins.
When candidates are evaluated according to their alignment with the company’s guiding principles, good hiring decisions are made. New team members must first be properly introduced to those principles, then have explained to them how they link to the organization’s purpose and specifically to their individual contributions toward fulfilling it. This approach unifies and strengthens what is ultimately built day by day, brick by brick.
Just as a successful marriage is about more than a ceremony, a successful business is about more than a product or service.