Keeping Perspective – What Really Matters
Despite the ever-present nature of the weight of the business on an entrepreneur, there are a few moments in life when heightened perspective hits you suddenly. In an instant, all of the cares you’ve carried for as long as you’ve owned your own business melt away into insignificance for at least a short period of time.
Occasionally, that perspective comes with a joyous event, like a wedding or a newborn child. Unfortunately, most of the time those moments of heightened perspective come from challenging news or circumstances, disease, or the death of a friend or family member.
None of us are exempt. No amount of pursuing your own growth or development will replace the real life lessons you will learn when you or people fairly close to you have to endure prolonged or extreme physical suffering or when someone you know passes away, especially if it happens unexpectedly.
In those moments, our humanity trumps everything else. One minute we are passionately pursuing our Vision, doing everything we know to do as entrepreneurs to grow our business, and the next minute all of our concern for driving to hit aggressive goals can vanish or, at least, be put on pause indefinitely.
I’ll never forget earlier this year I was busily working away at my endless to-do list one afternoon. It was March 21, 2018. It was about 4:00 in the afternoon on a Wednesday. We had spun the Elite business out of Infusionsoft the month before, and my one team member and I were working feverishly to do everything that used to be done by a larger team. Then I received a text that changed everything.
The text from my mother read, “I just got a call from Glencroft (a care center where my younger brother was staying). Richie (my brother) asked for some pain medication at 3:35. The nurse went in about 10 minutes later and he was already blue. They started CPR on him immediately. They’re still doing it. The nurse that called me said they would probably transfer him to Thunderbird and that they will call me. Prayers are needed.”
I immediately stopped what I was working on, told my team member that I was leaving right then, grabbed my things, and left. Before I had even gotten 10 miles down the road, the confirmation came that my younger brother was gone.
Nothing in my business, not record sales, worry about making payroll, or finding the perfect candidate for an open position… none of that held any shred of importance for me in that moment. It all paled in comparison to what I valued most in that moment and for the next several days. I surrounded myself with my family… my wife, my kids, my parents and my siblings. He was only 41 years old and left behind four beautiful children. All I could think about was that I wished I had spent more time with him before he passed away.
Last year, I recognized this same shift in one of our Elite Mastermind members. To respect his privacy, I’ll refrain from using his name, but this entrepreneur was a typical business owner. Working, working, working. Completely committed to growing his business and securing his financial future. One day he called to say he had a health problem come up and he needed to remove himself from our Mastermind group.
Almost a year later I felt like I should call him up and check on him. He told me that he had been battling cancer that entire time, including surgeries and multiple rounds of chemotherapy. I didn’t know him very well before he joined our Mastermind, but there was a marked difference in his tone and pace. His demeanor was much more relaxed and he seemed to focus more on things that really mattered to him. There was much less intensity and drive in his voice.
He spoke with me about the perspective change he had since being diagnosed with cancer and shared a Dalai Lama quote he had come across:
The Dalai Lama, when asked what surprised him most about humanity, said:
“Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”
The bolded portion of the quote is the one my former customer shared with me, but I like the rest of the quote as well. I don’t want to find myself in a situation where I die without ever really living.
Tragically, I have one more example to share from just a few months ago. Another one of our Elite Mastermind members from the UK was out enjoying the outdoors, camping with his family on a Friday night. A freak accident occurred and he passed away on Sunday morning, succumbing to the injuries he sustained. We were shocked when we heard the news.
He was only 25 years old. I had just spoken with him on the phone the day before the accident. We had spent several days together as a Mastermind group in Hawaii a couple months earlier where he spent his free time surfing and spearfishing. He not only had he built a multi-million dollar business with his childhood best friend, but he also lived life to the fullest. He will forever be my go-to example for someone who squeezed every ounce of value out of the time he had.
Most of us are passionate about the work we do and pour ourselves into it. Losing a younger brother and a customer this year and finding out that another customer is battling for his life brought perspective about where I want to prioritize my time. I’m still completely committed to helping 7-figure businesses grow during the time that I allocate to working. However, I also make sure to spend enough time with the people I love and doing the things that matter most to me.
If you find yourself spending all of your available time and energy on your business, you might want to consider what you want to do with your life. I like the practice of thinking ahead to your own funeral and asking yourself what you hope they’ll say about you during the service. If you have a clear picture of what you want to accomplish or the person that you want to become, are you spending the time required now to make that a reality? If not, I hope you’ll consider making some changes.
I invite you to find ways to keep the right perspective and not wait for an unpleasant surprise to pull you into living your life more intentionally.
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