Towers of Glass, Feet of Clay

royal_bank_building-smallI have been reflecting further about the “financial crisis,” and recalling a book I read in 1982 called Towers of Gold: Feet of Clay – the Canadian Banks, by Walter Stewart.

In a conversation about this with my colleagues I happened to say towers of glass, and perhaps 27 years later, Glass is more descriptive. In 1982, I was working in the oil and gas industry in Canada and this book was written about the Banking Industry, the mortgage crisis and the oil prices. These themes are again relevant in 2009.

In Towers of Gold, the title was based on the Royal Bank in Canada with a gold colored glass tower in Toronto. Gold had more relevance then as some of the money (not much even then) was actually backed by gold bars. Many eons ago, most of it was either made of gold/silver and later backed by it. Now most of our money is floating around electronically in bits and bytes, and the cash is made of plastic, paper and mostly cheaper metals. I have a special account (premier customer – which means more money deposited) with a major international bank, and the interest on this was very low and now has dropped to 0%.

I used to have judgements about people who keep their money in or under the mattress. Now I can laugh at myself because there is not much difference. Judgements are often like that, what goes around comes around. I wish I had some gold bars.

I feel this title reflects what is happening very accurately. Now there are even more towers of glass. There is competition between top cities about who can build the tallest tower, one about half a mile into the sky. Now most of these projects are compromised, and construction financing has been choked almost to death. Containers of steel and glass which were in such short supply (some orders 3 years ahead) were turned around from China and returned to their origin. Each one of these events has an impact on multiple people, industries, and countries. These really are the waves of impact. The waves move around the world faster than the earth spins.

These towers are built to be earthquake proof, tidal wave resistant, fire resistant and all these events are insured. This is where the foundations (the feet of clay) are being stretched beyond anything imaginable. And most will fall short in the test over time… I am refering to the financial foundations and also that of people, relationships, organizations, communities, and countries.

Like the banks, we all have glass towers that we build (what we show the world: the act, the ego, the stuff) and feet of clay (what we are at the core of our being: the real self, the essence, the ordinary humble person). Glass towers are fragile, and someone can always build a taller one.

I see all this as an opportunity to lead where it matters. When the waves of impact hit us, we cannot control the wave, only our response. By building personal foundations that are deep, strong, resilient and mostly invisible to everyone else, we can withstand the waves and even become better human beings. We can choose right action no matter what prevails.

2 thoughts on “Towers of Glass, Feet of Clay

  1. Pingback: Financial Crisis: What To Say To Your Loved Ones « Renaissance for Leaders | GOLDZONE

  2. I love the connection you make with our ego to towers and our real self with the feet of clay… it is so true that how much our real self is masked with the glass and towers we put upfront. Where most other egos will size another person up with the glass of towers they have.
    And how much a person, a organization, a community, a country is really based on the feet of clay, that can withstand the waves of impact.
    Thank you so much for your awesome article!!!

    Like

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