Stepping Away from the Curb

Dear Will:

As many of my friends know, about 3 ½ years ago a couple of buddies and I started a company called Thumbworks. In January, we sold our firm to a company in France. In the months that followed the acquisition, I hired several very capable people as we braced for a major expansion here in North America. It was all very exciting and promising. I may have mentioned it to you.

So imagine my surprise when I found out that my new bosses had decided to get rid of each of the very capable people I had hired along with all three of us who started Thumbworks in the first place. It was a stunning development considering the stated intention of our new bosses to grow our business here in the States. I couldn’t help wondering why they bothered to acquire us in the first place—or what, for that matter, they had ultimately acquired. I’m puzzled to this day.

But none of that changes the fact that as of Tuesday I will no longer be on the payroll of a company I watched grow from a blank piece of paper into a thriving firm with 20+ employees and product distribution in countries all over the world. I feel a little like the guy who just had his sandcastle kicked over by someone bigger—“just because.”

And so I am faced with a couple of important decisions. The first and most obvious is to figure out how to make a living and feed my family (still working on that, by the way). But assuming that works itself out—and I have every confidence that it will soon—I will be left with some memories of a great run destroyed. Had I gotten rich off of the acquisition, I’m sure that I could face the future philosophically; but since I have little more to show for my hard effort than the accumulated experiences of 3 ½ years, I admit that magnanimity is proving hard to muster. So as this chapter of my life comes to a close, the other decision I face is this: What will I choose to hold onto? The memories of the great run? Or the bitterness left by the destruction of what we worked so hard to build?

Eventually—and I’m not there yet—I hope to simply leave the disappointment behind me and get on with life. I know that harboring resentment or bitterness or regret can only canker my soul, so no possible good can come from obsessively replaying what happened or whining about what might have been. It will be better for me—not just in the long run, but in the short run as well—to simply move on. In fact, I have this image in my mind of bending down and placing “Thumbworks” on the curb and then walking away—never looking back or returning again to that spot. And when that phase of my life comes up in conversation, I’ll smile about all I learned instead of complaining about broken promises and dreams.

That’s my goal, anyway, and I’m working hard to get there. When I catch the bitter feelings starting to show, the Apostle Paul gives me this gentle reminder: “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:31-32). As I consider that good counsel, I smile and take another, stronger step away from the curb.

Check in with me in a month and I’ll tell you how I am doing. Or better yet, check in with my wife. . . .

PW

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