While eating lunch the other day in my truck, I engaged in my usual reading of the newspaper. An old dude like me looks at the obituaries and sees folks who have passed on that I might have known. It's also fascinating reading stranger's life stories.
Here is one that struck me right down to the core of my soul:
It was for a pediatrician who died at 59. It went on to tell about the 10,000 babies he had delivered over his career and how devoted he was to his patients. He had published important papers and was looked up to in the community. They interviewed his son whose quote made me choke! When asked about his dad, the only thing he said was, "He was a great doctor."
Wow, did that ever send a message. It was obvious to me that his son was hurt and thought his dad cared more about his profession than his family.
We are also engaged in a profession that can be very consuming. There are many times where it is easier and seemingly more important to press on with work than take time for other pursuits and family.
Twenty-five years ago, a customer shared with me advice his dad had given him. He said that no one ever lay on their deathbed and wished, "If I had only gone to work one more day." Those words resonated with me that day, and still do.
I read different profiles in this magazine about people who are successful, and many indicate they take little or no time off. I strongly disagree with a lifestyle that has minimal vacation time.
The goals I set for myself are simple: Leave as late as I can; get home as early as I can; do as little work as possible to ensure the level of success I desire; take as much time off as possible.
A subset would be relating to involvement in family and other important activities. Get involved with what really interests you. I managed my son, Nigel's, little league team this year and found it to be immensely rewarding. There were some days I had to skip a stop or abbreviate my visits to get to the field on time. I let the customers know I wasn't abandoning them and they understood. There was not a tremendous sacrifice of income, and what I received in return you can't put a price on.
I hear about distributors in this business that hit second and third shifts and miss important meals and events with their family and children. They are gone when the kids get up most days and get home late several nights a week. This has to be very stressful on everyone concerned and can exact a terrible price. That is not to say that those business opportunities can be ignored. What I am indicating is to evaluate what you are getting and what you have to give up to service those customers. They can be a crucial part of your success. I do suggest that you look over the timing of your stops and try to formulate a better solution for everyone. Is collecting an extra $xx really worth the extra time invested?
There has to be a better way and we all get so conditioned to our routines. We think, "How could I possibly set them up on every other week? I can't drop this stop — I have been coming here for years." That last one is real tough and I have no silver bullet answer. I'm sure some of you have discovered the "tools" to deal with these situations. Maybe a distributor you know has made some changes to his route and it seems to be working. Why not ask for some help?
When talking to others in this business I am always listening for better time management techniques. I am delighted to talk to someone who is working four or four-and-a-half days a week. It can be done. Someday I hope to have the guts and smarts to try it. Isn't this what it all boils down to? Less work = More fun!
When I am "room temperature" and people come to pay their final respects to me, I only hope they talk about the man I was in regards to my family and community. Yes, somewhere on those beautiful collages of pictures of me skiing, swimming, scouting, hiking, traveling, volunteering, and being a dad and husband, there will be one picture of a tool truck. Let your life be defined by what you have done — not by what you do. Give your loved ones the greatest gift you have to offer — yourself.
Watch your time closely so you can live your best life.