Life can change in a moment. What is important right now can very quickly become minutia in a matter of seconds if our perspective changes. Perspective is defined as the capacity to view things in their true relations or relative importance. I found myself sitting at a funeral this week due to a tragic event in the life of a family member. Work that was so important become something that could wait. At this particular funeral, no one spoke of the type of work the person did, what their skills were, how much money they had or any of the general descriptions we place importance on. It was more on memories of good times, sadness over the loss of a relationship and the tragic end to a life. There was discussion of talent and time lost.
Approximately two weeks prior, I was able to observe with fascination how perspective determines our focus. I sat in a men’s bible study with approximately 15 others and the question was asked, “What is the biggest relief you have ever felt?” Not one person who responded mentioned money, work, business, status, or any of the so called indicators of success. I believe everyone there mentioned a situation where there was a sudden change in the well-being of a spouse or child which turned out to be okay in the end.
Why is it we lose perspective on the most important parts of a life? We get tunnel vision becoming so absorbed in our career, our business, a problem, or a project that we forget and neglect everything else around us. One day we look up and realize the intense focus we had was misplaced and we have lost or damaged what matters most.
As business owners, we can get lost in the pursuit of “success”. We focus on profit, money, sales, negotiations, employees, problems, projects and the like. We say we are doing for our loved ones, to make a living, because no one else will. We get this idea that, “no one else can do it but me. If I am not there it will fall apart!” Then a life event can change perspective and suddenly our priorities change. Money is not the goal, power is not the aim, and recognition is no longer important. We no longer have to be there long hours because we are snatched back to what really matters for a moment.
I have fallen in this trap of lost perspective. As I have stated before, the business itself is not the dream we pursue. It is what it can provide for you, your family and your life. The business is a tool. It is not your identity, your baby, or your life goal. God said in Genesis that we would earn our living by the sweat of our brow all our days because of the fall of man. It is something we must do but it is not who we are. I enjoy business and I hope you do as well, but it is not the most important thing in your life.
How do you avoid this pitfall? I believe you must take regular moments of quiet reflection to stave off the assault of wrong perspective about life. Loss of priorities can happen so easily when we don’t take inventory of what we cherish most and establish a hierarchy of importance in our life. In one of my first posts on this site, I suggested you understand why you want to own a business. I encourage you to discuss that with your spouse and your children. What is the vision you all have for the business and where does it fit into your life.
When life ends, make sure you laughed a lot, loved those you cherished most, and made an impact in the world for God. Money will pass away and success fades so quickly. Take time to create your priority list. What is most important to you? Who is most important?
As you pursue the small business dream, keep the right perspective on your priorities in life. You will not regret putting more important things ahead of your work.