I am currently working at IKEA IT and with the recent death of IKEA founder – Ingvar Kamprad – a number of stories about his accomplishments are being shared. You can find some examples in the sources section of this article for inspiration. This article is however not so much about the entrepreneurial legacy that Ingvar has left behind as about some of the things he has not done.
In a Swedish documentary from 2017 – Felix möter Ingvar Kamprad – Ingvar concedes that while he was a young father, most of his time was spent building IKEA and that he hasn’t been really present to raise his three kids. He regretted not to have been more around during this unique period and, as you might already know, such a regret is pretty common amongst men on their dying bed.
The entrepreneurial lifestyle requires a lot of sacrifices, family being one of the most visible and frequent ones. When reading some of the articles available in the sources section below, the critical analysis and associated invisible costs of the provided advices are simply absent. Of course, people are not interested to get a balance view, every one is just looking for the one thing that they can do that will transform them from one day to another into someone more successful, happier or richer. It is interesting to see that this has become the way we are now consuming media: everything needs to be a “get X quick” scheme: “get rich quick”, “get healthy in one minute a day”, etc. We are almost willingly forgetting that every story has two sides and deeply fall into the one that catches our short attention span.
Everything is obviously a question of priorities. If dying men had spent more time with their families, would they express a regret for having potentially be less successful in their professional career than their alternative selves – the ones that would have spent more time working and less with their loved ones? It is a question impossible to answer because there is absolutely no way of knowing this.
Complications in identifying the right priorities are however becoming more and more frequent as employers try to make the workplace a second home. Have a look at some of the perks in companies coming from the Silicon Valley to understand what I mean. Everything is done so that you can spend more time at the office. It is of course important to create a workplace that is engaging and were employees feel not only that they are welcome but can also grow. But ensuring that boundaries are still there and that everybody understands them is also necessary.
This is not really one of the topics that I use to tackle on this blog, but there will probably be some more articles like this in the coming future. I am getting a bit too tired about the “This is the 3 things that you need to do to …” kind of articles that one can read everywhere nowadays. Not everything can be summarized in such a way and the individual complexities are simply never addressed. By only looking at some specific actions or moments, we lose sight of the big picture and forget to balance the facts. Every time a public figure passes away, as it was the case with IKEA’s founder last week, we never (or barely) hear about the regrets that those men and women had or about the priorities that they adopted. This would help us – simple mortal – to avoid repeating those mistakes as we try to make our path in this world.