Go for the gold
BUSINESS MATTERS (BEYOND THE BOTTOM LINE) - Francis J. Kong (The Philippine Star) - January 18, 2020 - 12:00am

The SEA Games are now over and the whole country has celebrated. The games instilled a sense of national pride as the country cheered on the athletes as they per­formed excellently in their different fields. Volunteers spent sleepless nights helping and serving. What hap­pened built a sense of confidence and pride, enabling Filipinos to know that we can host international events and that athletes can compete well in the global stage as well. There are endless stories of gallantry, honor, and sportsmanship in sports.

This reminds me of an old mate­rial I have kept over the years that speaks volumes in terms of lessons for life learning.

In his sermon, “The Turning Point,” Richard Fairchild tells how at the Olympic Games in Paris in 1924, Bill Havens, a member of the four-man US canoe rowing team, made the tough decision to with­draw from the games to be with his wife for the birth of their first child. The US team won the gold medal and it turned out that the birth of the baby was late. Bill could have stayed on with the team and could have arrived home in plenty of time for the baby’s birth. However, Bill said he had no regrets because his first commitment was to his wife.

There is a fascinating sequel to this story. “The child eventually born to Bill and his wife was a boy whom they named Frank. Twenty-eight years later, in 1952, Bill received a cablegram from Frank. It was sent from Helsinki, Finland, where the 1952 Olympics were being held. The cablegram read: ‘Dad, I won. I’m bringing home the gold medal you lost while waiting for me to be born.’

“Frank Havens had just won the gold medal for the United States in the canoe-racing event, a medal his father had dreamed of winning, but never did.” Rich­ard concludes the story by saying: “It is true for all of us in that whenever we honor our commitments—no matter what the immediate losses may seem—in the long run, it always pays to do the right thing. Always.1

I have missed many of my children’s school programs. I missed Bryan’s first soccer game. I missed Hannah’s school event, and I missed Rachel’s first-ever costume contest during which she won first place. I remember going home that day and saying, “Congratulations, sweetheart, I am so proud of you. You won first place in the costume contest. She wasn’t smiling, but all she said was, “But dad, you were not there.” Rachel was about six years old then. Now she is an adult, but those words of her still resonate in my mind. Bryan gave me a Christmas present when he was in his teens. I said a quick, “Thank you, my son. I love you.” I looked into the box, and it was a small piece of cake he had bought from a well-known restaurant. I quickly put it down on my table as I was rushing on my way out of the house for another engagement. He said, “Dad!” I said, “What is it?,” and he said, “Would you at least read what was written on the card?” Those were golden moments I missed, and they still haunt me now.

Don’t miss your moments with your kids. They matter. To us, it may seem like another obligation we have to fulfill, but to them, it may be as precious as winning a gold in an Olympic game. I am not laying out a guilt trip for you, and then perhaps I am. Work and business will always be there, but moments won’t, so don’t miss them.

Hannah has given me my first grandson and I make sure I will share this story with them. Bryan got married first week this year. In both of their speeches (Bryan and Hannah’s) they spoke about many touching things that they have experienced having The Ilocana and I as their parents. I am very good in managing my emotions and better still in not expressing them in public. But there was a deep stirring in my heart as I processed their words. But based on what they said, it seems that all the shortcomings of our parenting blunders that The Ilocana and I have committed have been forgiven.

Leadership begins at home. Do not miss the moments. And go for the gold.

(Francis Kong’s much awaited and highly acclaimed Level Up Leadership 2020 Edition runs on Jan. 29 and 30 at Seda Hotel, BGC. Attend the two-day inspiring and effective semi­nar-workshop. For further inquiries or advanced reservations contact April at +63928-559-1798 or register online at www.levelupleadership.ph)

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