Memorial Day is a time for us to remember our country’s fallen soldiers. And for the last 20 years, this holiday has also symbolized a long weekend at Schlitterbahn water park with my extended family.
Schlitterbahn isn’t about water rides. It’s not a destination on the map; it’s a time and place for relationships – for watching the young grow up or helping the old stay young.
When I worked at bTrieve (now Pervasive Software) we shared a keg of Shiner every Friday. But the ritual had very little to do with beer, or Fridays. For us, it was a keg of teamwork and camaraderie. Shiner symbolized our workplace culture. We worked in jeans while our competitors still wore power ties. We weren’t IBM, damn it. We were cool. We drank Shiner, not Merlot. We were a new breed, with radically different values.
Symbols are a rallying cry for a culture, and for change. Symbols are metaphors that define who we are, what we are about, and how and why we spend our time. But they lose their power when they replace their meaning: when presents become Christmas/Hanukkah/Chinese New Year. When meaningful words become clichés. When the anthem for the generation becomes a soundtrack for a TV commercial.
Or when the personality of the leader becomes the soul of the organization.
Photo by tsevis