Archive for February 3rd, 2010

What Matters Most

It wasn’t long ago that I enjoyed lunch with a long-time customer and friend.  He was undergoing cancer treatment at the time, and was doing quite well.  He told me one thing that had come of his illness was a realization of the importance of faith and family.  Those comments had an impact on me and have stayed with me ever since.
     Among those qualities that make people great is the proper ordering of priorities.  It is all about focus.  Whether a thing is important to us or not is seen in the amount of time and energy we put into it.  If we spend ourselves climbing thecorporate ladder, it is clear that being at the top counts.  If playing golf is important to us, we’ll be sure to work it into our calendar.  My point is that where our time is spent is a strong indicator of what is important to us. 
     My friend was a good man and well-respected in the community; sadly, he won his first go-around with cancer, but lost the second.  In the interim, however, he came to grips with an issue that often eludes us.  What really matters in life is not how big our businesses are or the size of our bank accounts, but our heart condition toward God and those closest to us. 
     I realize faith in God and the marketplace seem worlds apart for some, with little room for religion in the fray of day-to-day business.  Not a few feel that way.  Maybe my friend felt that way – until he was hit with a life-threatening disease.  I have observed that regardless of your persuasion, faith becomes important at some point in your life.  It may be the death of a loved one, an impossible situation at work, or simply a question as to life’s purpose.  Whether it is embraced or allowed to pass is another issue; nevertheless, faith is not a stranger to most people. 
     Unlike faith, which relates to an unseen world, family is flesh and blood, and too often they are neglected in our race to achieve.  Success provides little succor, however, in times of duress, and no P&L will comfort you when you most need it.  Your family will.
     I have been happily married 38 years now and am the proud father of five children.  In my race to build a business, I was often gone and frequently worked late; and when things were not going my way it showed up in my demeanor at home.  Though deeply committed to my family, I look back with some regret for not spending more time with the kids, and not being more emotionally present when with my wife.  Those are days I can never get back.  But what I can do is put ‘first things first’ today – intentionally placing my focus where it best belongs.
     It is unfortunate that it often takes tragedy to put things in proper perspective.  Maybe that’s one reason bad things happen to good people – like my long-time friend.  I am glad he had the time to refocus his attention on what mattered most; what is really tragic is that many people don’t.


February 2010