Today I would like to discuss the term love. Yes, that is right – love. Even we big, burly construction men think we know what “love” means or at least part of the meaning. Often we only address one (1) type of love. See, the English version of love actually derives from the four (4) Grecian words: agapeo (agape), phileo, eros, and storge. For a broader, simple definition of each, try this:
- Agapeo: Unconditional love
- Phileo: Love between friends
- Eros: The sense of being in love; romantic, intimate love
- Storge: Love of family; Parent/child, siblings, cousins, etc. In a very close family, agape is felt as well.
Now, you may ask, “Ryan, why the hell are you talking about love?” Well the answer is simple, but it carries a story.
For those who do not know me, I grew up in a fiercely competitive environment where sports and excelling took precedence. I traveled all of the US competing nationally in wrestling, football, and baseball. While each sport is unique for many reasons, the point I want to accent is that some rely completely on individual performance while others truly take a team to succeed. I had great successes competing as individual winning regional tournaments regularly, state championships and even national championships. However, all those championships were dwarfed by what great teams did. Those teams I watched had a deeper sense of belonging. They had jobs or roles to be. The celebrations were greater and even the losses were shared as successes.
Through high school, the football state tournament eluded us, our team never qualified for state in wrestling, and in baseball, we were consistently knocked out in regions. While I committed to extremely competitive programs at Minnesota State University, I experienced similar finishes of not quite garnering those championships.
After college, I went to a great organization where I traveled the US. While there, I was introduced to a person named Tim Spiker, a Leadership Development Manager for Blattner Energy, Inc. a great organization whom believed in investing into their employees in more things than just technical training. Tim introduced me to the actual definition of love and the four (4) meanings. He focused on Agapeo; unconditional love. The term is quite simple. It means, in my interpretation, that no matter what, I am going to be there for you. It is motherly love for their children; it is brotherly love for our friends. It is accepting of whom people actually are versus whom they try to be. It is allowing someone the space and autonomy to be who he or she is. It is many things but make no mistake, it is love. See Agapeo is the best parts all forms of all of loves’ other terms and implies no sense of time.
That same competitive spirit still exists within my soul. Blend that with this sense of team and belonging made me start to dream of this so-called “place,” a fictional place where we are uber-successful competition, and where people had a sense of belonging where they could feel this sense of Agapeo. Does such a place exist? Is there a place where we can have “it all?”
In 2015, I was asked to lead BCI Construction, Inc. on a day-to-day basis. I had spoken at lengths with the Owner; not only about a new leadership role, but also the opportunity of me leading the organization in the future as the President & CEO. He knew I cared greatly about this organization and I invested not only my time and energy, but I invested my heart into the people. I learned who people are and what they cared about. I built relationships. I genuinely care about what people do and who they want to be.
While I have always considered myself a leader, one (1) of the first questions that I asked myself is “how do I want to lead.” The answer was immediate, “Agapeo.” I wanted (and want) to be a part of something where people could be themselves and where others respected the value they bring. While I sought this “place” many times, I felt that the only way I was getting to that “place” is living that mission; which in essence, I think I already was. When our team made mistakes, I feel I focused on the solution. When a client was frustrated with an outcome, we organizationally studied what we could have done differently. When people had life issues they were going through, I offered them the opportunity to speak while I listened and empathized with what they were going through.
As an organization today, we make mistakes daily. I make mistakes. Mistakes are a part of life. Learning and fine-tuning those experiences into better processes, better understanding, and better commitment is what I feel life is all about. However, the beautiful part about it is the people that you share the journey with. We are all learning together and we are all educating each other. If we approach each other with a sense of Agapeo, we will all win together because inside our organization, everyone truly provides value. While many aspire to be bigger, faster, and stronger, we all understand that there is a role for all. When we refuse to judge each other and stand by our team day in and day out, is when Agapeo will take us to this magical place. We are going in that right direction.
President & CEO
BCI Construction, Inc.