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The Power of Perspective for Small Business Owners

Owning and operating a small business can be overwhelming and all consuming.  You start it to create more time and more money, and you find yourself with less time than ever, not withstanding the money.  The passion driving business owners is laudable, yet it can become an obsession rapidly as you find more and more “must do” activities that you simply cannot live without.  Business ownership can be an ulcer-inducing, pulse-racing siege against the ever-important obstacles to your success.

Sometimes life has a way of tossing perspective at us that makes you re-examine the really important things in life.

Mr. Bill

My wife and I had just commented that we hadn’t seen our neighbors to the south of us during the winter months, and found that unusual.  We live in a resort area and our neighbors on either side of us are part-time residents with the houses being summer homes to take advantage of the beautiful waterways.  The springtime rains and warmer temperatures were beginning to grow the vegetation around the house higher than expected, and this was another warning bell that something wasn’t quite right.

Well, my wife Lora got an email this past Friday from Barbara saying that she and Bill were coming down.  Bill was a jolly soul who could pass for Santa given a white beard who our 10 year old son loved seeing.   Bill would show Jack his fishing tackle as he was prepared to go off shore to fish, or let him jump into their hot tub just to have some fun during the longer summer nights.  The reason Bill’s wife Barbara gave us a heads up was to let us know that Bill had a massive stroke in December, was in a wheelchair or alternatively a walker, and couldn’t speak because his vocal chords were not responsive.

After their arrival my wife and I found our way next door to chat with Barbara and visit with Bill.  Bill had his wits about him but had lost about 50 pounds and, as advertised, was barely audible when he spoke.  After 5 months or so in the recovery process, Barb tells us that Bill has about a year to go to get functional, and the strain on her as his spouse is palpable.  My son waved to Bill from a distance but was clearly uncomfortable to see “Mr. Bill” is a diminished capacity, and asking us for answers as to what a stroke it.

At 62 years old Bill is lucky to survive, and is in our prayers as he makes his way back.  My wife couldn’t sleep last night and was shaken up, saying how thankful she is that I am healthy.

The Dreaded “C” Word

I serve as a Den Leader for my boy’s Cub Scout Pack for his age group, currently Webelos.  I have been trying to contact one of the other Den Leaders to see if there was a Pack plan for summer camp, available on 3 different dates, wanting to ensure that more kids attended the same event if they were going camping.  I hadn’t heard from Diane and wondered why, finally re-emailing her with a request to confirm that she got the message.

My email reply told me that I wasn’t being ignored, but something had come up that had taken over Diane’s total focus.  Her husband had been diagnosed with cancer and she has been spending time going to and from Johns Hopkins hospital for treatments.

Another dose of reality.  Many of us have been touched by cancer and in zero cases is it a picnic for the patient or his family.  My mother passed away 30 years ago of a malignant melanoma in her brain, and the memories of that came rushing back.  Planning the camping trip would have to take a back seat.

Walking the Dogs

Saturday we walked our 2 rescue dogs at the Boardwalkin’ for Pets event at the Ocean City, MD boardwalk.  This was put on by the local humane society and hundreds of pet lovers, many with adopted animals like ours, came out to contribute money and support the cause.  We proceeded to amble down the boards with our dogs Buddy, the goof, and Ginger, the shell-shocked nervous one, in tow.

During the walk we observed many people walking to and fro.  I couldn’t help but notice a rather large child calling out to her father, who was walking with her holding her hand.  “Right Daddy, right Daddy!” I kept hearing.  It was apparent that this young lady had Downes Syndrome, with Dad needing to direct her along during their chilly, spring walk while taking in all the dogs they could see.

My eyes welled up with tears as they do whenever I see a child who has a challenge like this.  I looked at myself with my two healthy legs that can run a half marathon, and my pets and family, all of us healthy, and felt ashamed worrying about my petty little problems with sales revenue, delinquent payments from customer or too many weeds on my lawn.

What’s Really Important

I’m sure you’ve heard this little tale or others like it many times before.  You hear it from motivational speakers and church preachers, in Reader’s Digest articles and on dozens of cable TV shows.  You may be experiencing some similar personal crisis like the examples I gave to you and the message may be that much more spot on for you.  It’s simply a message of perspective.

As you run your business, you will have untold numbers of problems that bear down on you.  Most will involve money—making more of it, spending less of it, and being frustrated by it.  If you’re a regular reader of this blog you get tips on those elements of business stress routinely, and I cannot thank you enough for following the chatter.

The next time you’re ready to strangle a supplier or freaking out because the books don’t balance at the end of the month, think back to this little tale to get some perspective on what is really important in your life.  Your spouse, your kids, your grandkids, your pets—all of these living, loving entities in your life may pop into your head and make you realize that the problems in your small business are nothing more than tiny speedbumps in the long road of life.  Give thanks for what you have, control what you can control, and understand your business for what it is—a means of income.  It is not life or death and doesn’t have the power to destroy you or those close to you unless you allow it to do so.

 

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