We are exploring Bremen. Staying in a Seaman's Mission. Feibai always likes a bit of nautical flair. It is her way of getting an impression how her father's working life on a Chinese Containership (registered in Panama) might be. Languages spoken here are mainly German and Russian. I am guessing, just guessing, that latest in the dining hall, she will realize, why this is called Sea-man(!)'s Mission. No problem. As long as my favorite Gerber knife (for introduction click here) is in my pocket and a chair or broken glass bottle are in reach, I usually can handle group dynamics quite well. Just joking. They are nice neighbors, right?
In the last few days I was more on the phone than on the computer. There was a bit of administration "with Chinese characteristics" which drove me nuts. But who cares in the end? A dear old fellow and colleague passed away, after suffering for more than two years. Three days before his death he had a five hour conference call with his team. His mission was to give us the right cars at the right time. He did. For now and for the years to come. I admired Reinhard Fischer for his good humor, for his determination, and for never complaining. Facing death for years, he still put his mission first. That's all I knew of him. Of course I was wondering whether this is heroic or sad. But now is not the time to wonder. It is heroic!
Friends called from all over the globe. Mostly in their early 60s or just late 50s. We chatted and they told me how they are doing. It was often ironic. We laughed a lot. I heard a lot of anecdotes how the leaders of the past are becoming a burden of the present. And how they are told that they should step down, after they have been encouraged a lifetime to step up. The young hotshots are pushing. Have I not been myself a young hotshot recently? I am still in my 40s.
I was reminded of a tale, which every child knows in Germany: Die Bremer Stadtmusikanten (engl. The Town Musicians of Bremen). But no child understands it. It is the story of an old donkey picking up an old dog, and old cat and an old rooster. Together they go to Bremen, which was then a free "Hansestadt" (some kind of free trade zone) and become town musicians. Everything must have been possible at the Bremen of that time. They all leave a place where they are presumably a burden to the one who feeds them. And on their way they defeat a gang of robbers heroically, each with its unique skills and experience.
I have seen this story so many times in corporate life. And I have witnessed often enough how embarrassing it can be when big corporations "handle" their passing staff in the final stage.
And this is where I remember the childhood story and my favorite quote: "Join me. Something better than death we can find anywhere."