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EVEN DIRTY OLD MEN NEED LOVE
6/27/2006 12:07:50 PM




The business leader who displays the framed page represents the first generation who started with nothing and broke his back to get where he is now, but unlike the landlords of old, he now spends time mentoring and monitoring his children, making them run multi-million dollar companies all before 30 years of age. His great fear perhaps is posted by the door.

Highlighted and located in a similar spot is a newspaper clipping displayed in the mini conference room of another CEO.

It’s a quote from Mr. Lucio Tan who tells about a Chinese proverb: "A snake does not swallow an elephant."

I wondered why the CEO I was visiting had this on the wall. In reflection I realized he was part of an organization that had been guilty of biting more than they could chew. When it became corporately fashionable his group entered businesses that was not their core competence so they won some, lost some. Actually lost more!

Stuff on the desk also speaks tons: "If one listens with the eyes". Taped on the corner of a very used computer screen was a Biblical quote: "Seek ye first the kingdom of God."

Having known the person, I understood his battles with priorities, integrity, and fighting off the temptation to take the easy way out. Never publicly religious even to his family, he constantly needed to remind himself of his true love which was to read Scriptures and talking to God like the boy he was half a century ago.

Sometimes paper weights represent burdens, guilt, and a heart’s cry. I noticed an unusually large one carved out with the message: "Even dirty old men need love."

Initially I thought of it as flippant, some smart ass justification for marital failure. A humorous self-confession designed to solicit sympathy.

But why would a powerful man even make such a concession? Even worse a confession of weakness? In a world affected by image and impression, it bordered on pathetic and it was there on his table for the world to see.

But I realized in time that he actually made a courageous statement, yes it was a confession, but it was also an appeal.

That in spite of his failure he also needed love, not from some woman he was having his fling with to stroke his ego, but from those he truly loved, those who truly mattered. His wife, his sons, his daughters, as well as his friends. The real friends who left because they were pushed out instead of standing their ground.

That paper weight may well have been a rock with a rope tied around all our necks because its flippant message was a cry for help.

I have my own paper weights. One inherited from my Dad Louie Beltran, and another one I left behind on a trip to Hong Kong. I couldn’t afford it but I never forgot it. Both are made of clear glass. One fashioned like a piece of rock. Inscribed on it is the message:

"What you dare to dream, dare to do". I have.

The one I left behind is specially poignant. It’s a glass carving of a whale above water. Inside the belly of the whale, calmly sitting as if in prayer and meditation, the prophet Jonah.

Everybody should have one on their table. It’s a great reminder that if the world swallows you up, places you in a dark, stinking belly, when all you want to do is to runaway from the responsibility, when you just want to be left alone. You could do what Jonah did.

He gave God a call, he negotiated, made the deal . . . and then he took a bath.



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