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Blue Skies

The Colors Of My Life

The Ways Of My Family

Loyalty and Honesty at Work

I grew up in a very strict family, where respect for authority was not a choice, but a fact of life. My father was a hard-working man, and my Mom, besides taking care of the home front, also worked alongside him for as long as I can remember. There was no day when work was not part of our lives. Work issues were frequently discussed over daily meals, and we all learned about the good and the bad days of my Dad’s business life. I was not annoyed or bothered by them, but rather fascinated by the love my parents had for what they did.  


My father always dreamed about one of us taking over the business he had built over the years through hard work and dedication. Naturally, his dream was to see his business supporting us all our life. He has always been a provider, and although he dreamed about enjoying the fruit of his labor, nothing gives him more pleasure than helping others succeed. His ways were not always smooth and gentle, but always genuine. He never asked anyone to do more than he did, and worked long hours to keep his business running. 


When I and my siblings were old enough to follow directions, we spent many hours helping my mother with office work. Each of us played a small part in helping with the business. Some more than others, but we all did what we could. I was probably the one who spent the least time working with them because of my choice of career, as well as grad school. However, I never forgot their principles towards work. Each step of the way, I felt that it was my duty to make sure that every peso they invested in my education was properly used regardless of how much work it took. 


I might not be aware of everything my parents had to do, but the lessons I learned early in life shaped my professional life. These gave me the motivation to work hard for those that depend on me and those that employ me. From their experiences, I learned the importance of loyalty and honesty. Loyalty: to give back the time invested in training and not to jump from job to job for personal benefit without thinking about the impact I might have on those that depend on me; recognizing that there are ideas brought up as a team that I cannot call my own, even if I worked hard on them. Honesty: to deliver on my commitments, without shortcuts, or doing less work than I could; respecting my professional and legal obligations, regardless of how small or insignificant they might seem; being upfront in actions or plans that might present themselves as dishonest.


I know it is difficult to understand, for those that have never had their own business, the struggles small businesses have to go through to stay afloat, and how important being around honest and loyal people is for their survival. Even within a small environment, a dedicated employee that always does dutiful work brings out the best in others and provokes amicable competition, which ultimately helps the business to keep them and others employed. In honest environments, an employee in need of support to attend to family matters would have the support of their colleagues. I was lucky to grow in this environment and therefore realize many things I would not have otherwise.

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Of course, many people try to find jobs that make them feel good or that are a perfect fit for their personality and lifestyle. Many look for jobs that give them plenty of freedom to choose where to work, when to work, and how to work. I have been a long time in my current job and I like what I do. It also had benefits that allowed me to manage my personal life without losing my job. However, we know that a perfect job is perfect until we find its rough corner, and mine has many. Also, the struggles of friends and family, make me realize that perfection is unattainable, just because of the mere fact that we all are different. What is perfect for me will be imperfect for someone else.


Most businesses have basic rules for us to follow, which help us and others work around these perceived imperfections, trying to make a job satisfactory for most. These rules might or might not work; however, jumping from job to job in search of perfection and rapid growth without considering the impact on the business our departure might have, show that we are loyal only to ourselves. Yes, we want the perfect job for us, but we also should think about what we should give back, more when a small business might have invested a lot of time in us. Being honest with ourselves and realizing if we are leaving because we need to or just because we can. My parents had several employees who left to work with others as soon as they learned the ropes of the business, taking with them the knowledge they acquired and sharing it with others regardless of how much they hurt my father.


There are unwritten rules that usually go unmentioned for they are believed to be common sense. Honesty is one of them. We assume everybody around us believes in honesty and guides themselves according to that principle. Unfortunately, there are many examples showing it is not true. Jumping from job to job at the minor dissatisfaction is one of them. Even if in my professional life I’ve been through difficult times, I always remind myself that, just like my employers, I might not have the perfect answer on how to do things that make everybody happy. I think about my parents and focus on how my hard work will help others, and how much I will contribute to keep the business or organization running, and others employed. I also keep in mind that not everything goes according to plan and things can become worse when there is no loyalty and honesty. 


There is another experience from my parents' business that shaped my life. It had to do with breaking little rules because these are inconvenient or thought of as justifiable infractions given the circumstances. Many of my parent’s discussions dealt with clients who had accumulated large debts, who in turn made excuses to avoid paying said debts while also living a life they could not afford. The argument about family struggles and needs was thought of as enough justification to ultimately leave my father with large debts to pay. That is why since very young I hated to break rules, even the smallest ones. I learned that there is a fine line between big and small, right and wrong, and not focusing on the right all the time can make us cross the line to the wrong. Because what is right for us might be wrong for others. 


If all the employees and clients my parents worked with had been loyal and honest, things might have ended up differently for them. My parents would have been able to retire with a stable future, without feeling as if they had failed. They would not have to worry about what to do now with the rest of their life. Yes, now they have me and my sisters to help some, but my father was always the provider, and he wanted to be the provider until the very end. That is what makes him happy.

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