Recently, a valued employee and Seventh Generation parted ways. This story is told with thoughts of that employee, and an expectation of learning and growth at our company.
The Cygnet (A Story)
In the rolling hills of a richly forested Northern country lies a pond. Nestled among trees of strength and wisdom, the pond is fed by brooks of pristine water, and its surface is a deep blue.
One day two swans flew over the pond and were immediately drawn by its beauty. They landed on the pond’s clear water, looked around at the protection of the trees, and knew without doubt that they had found their home.
But no home comes without work, and the swans cleared brush and built a nest to return to each night. It was not long before the pair produced a clutch of six eggs from which hatched six cygnets. Cute, as cygnets always are, the six siblings swam dutifully behind their parents during the day, and returned to the nest with them each night.
As the cygnets grew, they learned to help the parent swans clear brush and expand the nest. They all worked hard and were rewarded with a beautiful home set beside a beautiful pond in a beautiful wood.
It did not take long before other swans noticed the beautiful pond and the wonderful nest, and soon other families joined the swans to create a flock. All the swans and cygnets were proud of their new surroundings, and they all worked together to build comfortable nests and maintain the beauty around them.
The following year, after spending the winter in the Southern country, the flock returned to their pond. The six cygnets had grown. But one had not grown as much as his siblings. The adults and all the cygnets began the work of restoring their nests, damaged during the harsh winter. They all worked hard because they loved their home, and because they loved and respected each other.
It was not long before the adult swans noticed the one cygnet had not grown as much as his siblings. They saw that he worked just as hard as the others, and that he truly wanted to be there, but they could not escape the fact that he was smaller and could not do as much work as the others.
The adults talked about this amongst themselves. What shall we do with our cygnet, they wondered? They knew he worked as hard as the other cygnets, and that he cared for their wonderful pond as much as any of them. But the fact remained that he had not grown as much as the others, and he could not do as much as they.
They asked him to do more work, but he could not because he was doing as much as his size allowed. He asked the adults to help him do more, but they did not know how to help him.
They asked him to grow so he could do more work, but he did not know how to do that, nor did the adults know how to help him grow.
Finally, the adults decided that they must ask the cygnet to leave because he was not doing as much work as the others. When the adults told the cygnet he must leave, he felt as if an arrow had pierced his heart. He loved the flock and he loved their home as much as any other swan or cygnet. He did not want to leave.
But the decision was final.
When the rest of the flock learned of the decision of the adults, they were all shocked. How could the adults do this? The cygnet worked hard. He was loved by all, and he returned that affection.
But the decision was final.
With heavy heart, the cygnet knew he must go. The entire flock gathered to watch him leave. There was sadness, and there was a bond of kinship and love. At once, the cygnet knew that the moment to leave had come. With one last look, the cygnet spread his wings, lifted himself into the air, and disappeared above the edge of the forest.