Monday, June 27, 2005

Things My Son has taught me

My boy, Jacob, is currently out of town with my wife at a very special physical therapy program called Conductive Education. I think about him a lot. He’s got Cerebral Palsy and Cystic Fibrosis.

In his five short years, he’s taught me a lot about life. So, while I’m thinking of him, I’d like to share those lessons with you, because they’ll apply directly to your business.

1. Face life with a smile

This kid, with all of his struggles is the smiliest kid I’ve ever seen. He really knows how to command attention and light up a room. Here’s a person who should have every right to sulk, bound to a wheelchair. And yet, even though he has his moments, he is a very personable and happy boy.

Having a positive outlook to life and business can go a long way toward keeping you moving on the road to success. While you’re networking, be sincerely happy to meet people. Have a good time with your business. It doesn’t need to be drudgery.

2. You can do a lot more when you don’t know what you can’t do

A lot of his bliss comes from his ignorance. He’s still young enough that he doesn’t fully know what he can’t do, yet. So, he takes a lot of risks. Some times so much so that it scares me as a parent.

If we look at life and business as a challenge we can take on, rather than an obstacle that we know will defeat us, we’ll get a lot farther in the long run.

3. Take advantage of opportunities

This one is more about things my wife has taught me. She’s managed, in the years since Jacob was diagnosed, to find all kinds of programs and funding, and to fight the bureaucracies that both administer and protect that funding. It’s truly amazing what she’s been able to bring to the family, simply because she’s learned to find opportunities and move on them.

There are many opportunities available to your business. Find them and take advantage of them.

4. There’s always someone worse off

A lot of people talk to me and tell me what a wonderful person I must be (flattery will get you nowhere, but keep talking…) because I have such a challenge in my life. I see many people in the hospitals and therapy groups whose children are in a far worse situation than Jake. The bottom line? I can’t waste time wallowing in pity, neither for them, nor myself.

Every business will go through slumps. You can mope your way along them, or you can rise above them. And comparing yourself to the success of others is counterproductive and damaging. Move ahead at your own pace.

5. Perseverance

The rewards of success come to everyone that crosses the finish line, not just the first one. That means that you don’t have to be fast, you just have to not quit.

6. Life can be high-maintenance at times. Deal with it

Sometimes I feel very overwhelmed and inadequate as a father of a special-needs child. Frankly, how many dads reading this feel inadequate as a parent of a “normal” child, right? There’s just so much to do and to be on top of. I’ve got to maintain the respiratory treatments, I’ve got to help him practice sitting up and taking steps, and on top of all that, I want to lose at Pokemon cards with his big brother. And that doesn’t count earning a living.

But you know what? Since the dawn of time, it’s always been that way. Job said, “Man was born to trouble as the sparks fly upward…” So, even though I complain about it from time to time, the best strategy is just to deal with it.

1 comment:

  1. I love this post. You are so honest. I wish I could sprinkle you over the top of some folks I know who just can't appreciate the experience of "dealing with it."