My older daughter Andrea got herself married yesterday. Kind of a strange situation there, being that she is my wife’s daughter from her first marriage, which is only important in that as the step-dad I had no official role in the event; her birth father walked her down the aisle, my wife is the bride’s mother, and my birth daughter Jagan was the flower girl. Me, I got to hold the coats and various accessories and stay out of the way. On the positive side, I think I stayed out of the way pretty well. Got a few good pictures too. The wedding was at the A.D. Bruce Chapel on the campus of the University of Houston, and the weather was perfect.
Seeing your kids get married is always bittersweet. On the one hand, it’s a great day to see them commit to a life together with the one they have chosen. On the other hand, you really worry about all the things your kid still needs to learn, especially the mistakes you made and hoped you could keep your child from making. Without going into details, there are many places where I would have hoped that my daughter would have listened to good advice, usually from her mother, which is of course the reason she ignores it – I believe that a lot of kids resist admitting that their parents are right about anything, or that they could need their parents once they are themselves adults. Been there myself, y’know?
That ‘don’t listen to anyone else’ mindset is not limited to kids, though. In business, I often see new managers decide to rip up and replace everything and everyone. Many times that means destroying the good with the bad, and what comes in may not be as good as what was lost. In discussing the problems with the automakers, some astute readers pointed out that some of the executives have not been there long, and have actually been working effectively at problems which are simply too big and which have been around too long already to be answered quickly with a few smart moves. What I have found to be the most effective practice, is for the new boss to take some time to be sure of what’s going on and who’s doing what before taking action or committing to a decision – you cannot depend on just what you think is the case, or what some people tell you is going on. You often need a broader and deeper perspective than what you have coming in, which is why you should consider the contribution your predecessor may be able to offer. Despite the partisanship, many outgoing presidents are able and willing to assist the new chief executive with what they know about the most important issues and policies. While a changing administration may well mean a sea change in policy direction, it is nonetheless important to understand how and why the prior president reached the decisions he did. I am curious to see if President Obama proves to be as wise as I hope my 24-year-old daughter will be.