Don’t Fumble the Handoff
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7 August 2013 - 23:51, by , in Leadership, No comments

Dad died December 9th, sixty-two short days after Mom. Noel Pryor left like he lived… quietly, graciously, without demands. The death certificate says emphysema, but family and friends know full well that Dad died of a broken heart. Fifty-seven years ago Dad said and kept a wedding vow, “till death do us part”. By his actions, Dad handed off to the next generation, my brother and I, the importance of saying what you mean and meaning what you say.

Dad didn’t have a mission statement hanging in the den. Most of his instruction was indirect — by model rather than by explicit statement. I do not recall Dad declaring values as clearly as I do him demonstrating
them. It was no secret that Dad’s priorities were God, family and country.

Decades of treasured values, lessons learned and mission focus can be lost if one generation forgets or fumbles the handoff to the next. Based on what I’ve seen in 2003, fumbled handoffs in the corporate world are becoming all too common:

  • Walt Disney’s empire built on family values was fumbled away by a management team intent on growing the business with R-rated movies. Walt’s brother resigned from the board.
  • Time’s 1928 Person of the Year, Walter Chrysler, would be embarrassed 75 years later to see his company sponsoring the Lingerie Bowl played by semi-nude models. Fortunately, car dealers complaints caused Chrysler’s CEO to pull the plug late last week on this 2004 Super Bowl
halftime event.
  • Founded in 1892, Abercrombie & Fitch, originally purveyors of quality clothing now promote perverted sex. The 2003 management team promotes group sex and nudity to teens through catalogs and in-store advertising.

In these aforementioned examples, handoffs never took place, were fumbled or forgotten. Before Dad passed away I was blessed with an opportunity to show him I got, not forgot what he valued. Less than a week before his death, I handed Dad the first copy of my new book, The Principles. He cried. So did I. The book arrived from the publisher just in time for me to confirm for Dad that he successfully handed off to the next generation meaningful principles that can improve both families and businesses.

What can you and I do to insure we don’t skip a generation?

  • Have something worthwhile to handoff… Christmas is a perfect time to spend time thinking what is most important to handoff to others. For Dad the handoff included more memories than money. Amongst his clothes we found a Bible my grandmother gave her son to carry into combat during WWII. I and the next generation of Pryor’s consider that item and other keepsakes as priceless.
  • Be there to handoff… We can’t effectively handoff via e-mail or memo. Transferring things of value to the next generation is best done in person. As police captain, Dad rotated shifts monthly. But he always found time to be there when we needed him. I often stop and remind myself to reduce the time spent on urgent-unimportant issues and redeploy those hours to activities of greater value.
  • Look for someone to receive the handoff… Who needs your handoff as a hand-up? It’s not just your children. Co-workers, customers, friends and other family members need a handoff of value from you. I learned at the funeral that my Dad took it upon himself to mentor the first Arlington Police Department chaplain. Twenty years later, that same chaplain led Dad’s funeral service.
  • Thank the person handing off… Sorting through Dad’s things, I came across a handwritten book I gave him years ago as a Father’s Day gift. In it I had written “The Top Ten Things I Learned from Noel Pryor”. I listed things Dad had encouraged me to do … love my wife, love music, love the Lord. Dad apparently treasured my thanks as much as I valued his handoff.
  • Pickup your fumbles… Living a life of values is more difficult than listening. I admit to fumbling more than one of Dad’s handoffs over the years. Humbling myself to pick up things I dropped or forgot taught me an important life lesson … it is possible to start over again. Layoffs the past three years eliminated men and women who understood and modeled corporate values, wisdom and discernment. It is encouraging to see an increasing number of calls from managers re-starting abandoned ABM/ABC
 The inquiries are an encouraging sign that organizations are picking up the pieces of recessions past and turning their focus towards having better information to foster future growth.

I did not lose Mom and Dad this year, because I know exactly where they are this Christmas… together again. And thanks to my son-in-law and daughter, a generation will not be skipped in our family. They’ve decided to name my new grandson “Noel”. I can now look forward to telling him and his brothers all about their great-grandfather, Noel Pryor.

I hope you will be as blessed as I and my family this Christmas season. Give thought to what you need to handoff and hand down in 2004. Don’t skip a generation in your private or corporate family. Hand down things you value. For when you do, you receive much more than you give.

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