What all your most cherished moments have in common


I was talking to Todd Camp at dinner in North Boston several months ago after the Harvard Conference on Leadership and Negotiation. We were talking about the importance of mission and purpose to the Camp system, but Todd pointed out that people kind of glaze over when you start talking about mission and purpose. It doesn’t readily inspire, especially in the early stages.

 So what is the remedy? Well, maybe we need to start by looking backwards from our most cherished moments. I’ll give you an example: I was fortunate that my grandparents from both my father and mother’s side were friends prior to my parents even meeting. After my parents were married, the four of them were traveling in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire, and they decided to go look at some property. I don’t know the all details, but they decided on a piece of land with an old barn on it. They agreed to purchase it together, and because my father’s father, also William Chase, was a contractor, they had the means to renovate it. I was the first-born grandchild for both of them, and you can imagine the fun my siblings and cousins and I had having access to each other,  our grandparents, and uncles and aunts, in such a setting when we went on vacation.

 Back then it was just ’normal’ to me, but I have come to realize how special it was now that I have kids. My kids are able to enjoy it now…takes my breath away when I ponder it. 

 So do you know where this is going? The ability of my grandparents to negotiate this agreement was the foundation of so many cherished moments that continue to this day. They had a mission and purpose, and it guided their steps. It hasn’t always been easy, and we almost lost it when my father’s parents, who were older, had to sell their half to my mother’s parents, but their mission and purpose guided their steps.   I recently went up there by myself to do some mountain climbing, clear my head and work on my mission and purpose. Irony of that was not lost on me.

 My grandparents really raised the bar for all of us in the family.  My mother and her three brothers own the property now that my grandparents have passed and rent one side of it to great tenants that have been there for years and take care of it. Guess who negotiated that agreement – my grandmother Charlotte Emerson who just recently passed in 2010. She and my grandfather Klaas Van Hof  have their names etched in stone on a huge piece of NH granite in the woods on the property that they cherished so much.

 What negotiations have made your cherished moments possible?  Try working backwards if you care to answer. The importance of mission and purpose will begin to really become clear for you.

 Wim

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