Do We Really Need Them?

By: Prof Enrique Soriano

In the days leading to the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage, I would constantly ask myself, “Do I need everything I have?” The insignificant load that we actually carry take up so much space in our hearts starting with the way we live our lives, the compulsion to have more wealth by working so hard at the expense of family time, our penchant to have an extravagant lifestyle, our insatiable craving to keep up with the Joneses and our desire on being the most successful CEO in our industry. Sadly, I became a victim of all these material obsessions more than 20 years ago. These fixations happened early on in my corporate career and I paid dearly for it. I suffered a complete depletion of energy and had to retire at a relatively early age of 40. Ominously, it happened when I was at the peak of my corporate career either as Country CEO, President and or a member of the Board of Directors of market leading organizations.

All throughout our life journey, we always think we cannot live without them. But in reality, we really have a lot of things that we don’t need. In fact, these material desires distract us and slows us down. Ultimately, it takes out the happiness and love for family.  In my years coaching family owned businesses in Asia, I have witnessed how founders and business owners callously drive their children to excel in business but regrettably and woefully failing to inculcate good old fashion family values such as good parenting, love, family unity and stewardship. Applying these values will determine the kind of family and business we all have long after the senior leader has passed on.  When parents do not express real love towards their children, family harmony is threatened. In the end, real wealth is all about simplicity and real happiness comes from the heart. As St. Ignatius once said, “Happiness does not depend on how many things you have but on how much we love God and others.”


“Our Problems Are Nothing”

During my Camino de Santiago walk, there were times I wanted to stop, but for as long as my wobbly legs could still manage to hold up, even if I fall one more time, I knew I will rise up and walk. It was my desire to continue walking. Just as in life, you just can’t quit. Whatever curveball is thrown at you; you just can’t stop. You can pause but you just can’t say, I’ll stop as life’s challenges will keep coming at you. I can’t do this anymore was never an option.

Though my days were limited, all the sacrifices I went through during the walk and the brutal climb at the Pyrenees (the mountain range that separates the Iberian Peninsula from the rest of Europe) was a test of my faith and endurance. And being a first time Caminoan, I felt like I was experiencing my own calvary. Overall, the exhaustion we felt during the journey was a striking resemblance to the sacrifices that millions of pilgrims experienced in their Camino journey during the past 12 centuries. As Joe Soberano, a fellow Caminoan and founder and CEO of listed firm, Cebu Landmasters said, “everytime I embark on this pilgrimage, I am constantly reminded that I am nothing compared to the thousands of pilgrims who have suffered and endured more adversities.” So true. Our problems are just a shred compared to the challenges of others.

To be continued…


Prof Enrique Soriano is a World Bank/IFC Governance Consultant, Senior Advisor of Post and Powell Singapore and the Executive Director of Wong + Bernstein, a research and consulting firm in Asia that serves family businesses, family offices and family foundations. He is an associate member of the Singapore Institute of Directors (SID) and an advisor to business families worldwide, a sought after governance speakers, and the author of many articles and publications, including two best-selling Family Business books (Ensuring Your Family Business Legacy)