What Matters Most?

On an average day I balance the flow of customer engagements, dozens of emails and multiple telephone calls, all while traveling or while working from home. On most days I find that I am able to achieve my daily “TO DO’s” and still balance quality time with family. Many days are spent juggling that delicate balance, taking a work call while my child sits quietly in the back seat or worse yet, taking a work call during family dinner time.

However, if being honest and despite your best efforts, how many of those days does the family end up on the bottom end the “TO DO” prioritization? In my case I must admit that this happens more often than I like. Until recently I have been the expert of planning my day down to 15 minute increments and operating my daily calendar with surgical precision.

My wake up call happened in the most sudden and unexpected moment. The day leading up to this moment had been filled with a lunch meeting in Atlanta, followed up by an afternoon of calls and as always, I had calls stacked up with such precision… ” ok, wrap up call with the client at 2:50pm, pick up my son at 2:55pm, and open the conference bridge at 2:58pm for a 3pm conference start time.” Sound familiar?

Being in “work mode” I didn’t notice the dark clouds and as I pulled into the circular drive at my son’s elementary school, I also failed to notice that many of the 45 cars ahead of me in line were empty. I was busy wrapping up my conference call and had barely taken notice of the world around me. As the tornado alarms began to blow it occurred to me that now would be a good time to end my call, walk into the school and check to ensure all was well. As I approached the front door of the school I was escorted to the 5th grade wing. As I opened the double doors into the inner hallway to the 5th grade wing, what I observed instantly took my breath and brought tears to my eyes.

Crouched on the floor were dozens of children, many of whom were whimpering, surrounded by brave adults who were doing their best to calm those children in their care. The mood was somber and at that moment all I knew is that I needed to find my son. The next 90 minutes were the longest minutes of my life… No longer was I concerned about work, quota, reports or next week’s meeting… All that mattered were those people I found myself sharing the hallway with.

Fortunately that day ended well and the storm passed without a tornado touching down. But the memory of that day has helped me to reset my priorities and ensure that my day starts and ends with my children as the top priority. As I affectionately say, “work happens”, but “family matters”.

May your priorities always be balanced and may your most important “TO DO’s” include those who are most important to you.

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