I normally write about all things related to time management, priorities and being more productive. On this special day, however, I feel compelled to take a quite different track with my comments.
Almost seventeen years ago I left the classroom to pursue a career as a professional speaker. Little did I know that less than a year after making that decision I would have someone enter my life that would give me the opportunity to daily "practice what I espoused to others" in keynotes and training programs. Living by your priorities is more difficult than simply identifying them.
Sixteen years ago today my first daughter Alex was born. For the first two years of her life I played the role of "Mr. Mom" while my wife worked to support us while my business was taking off. I'll always treasure that time with her and the relationship we developed. For the next several years I had the blessing of spending more time with Alex than almost any parent could ever imagine. She traveled with Lisa and me often on my business trips, enduring endless meetings, cheap hotels (sorry about the bugs) and long road trips. We were never so happy as when we got a VCR/TV for the van... and headphones!
One of my fondest memories of traveling with Alex was when she accompanied me to Japan on a speaking trip. While I would have enjoyed doing a little more sightseeing, we spent hours looking for "Hello Kitty" merchandise and exploring all the neat things at the 100 yen store.
Through these 16 years I have often stumbled as a parent, but I have sincerely tried to make Alex one of the top priorities in my life. Too often I see parents off saving the world but neglecting their own children. I always said I never wanted to be that kind of parent. And looking at the relationship I have with Alex at this point in her life, I indeed feel blessed beyond measure that I made that choice.
My heart also goes out to those parents who won't clarify their priorities and make the necessary changes to live by them. I was talking to someone with young children last week and he was trying to reconcile working long hours (he and his wife) with spending more time with his children. His ultimate comment was, "I can't put off things with my children. They won't wait while we are going after these other things." But he and his wife just aren't willing to make the life changes...yet. Please understand... I don't expect my priorities to be other people's priorities. I just think we need to be intentional about living by our priorities...whatever they may be.
So, what's this post about? I guess you could say it's about seeing the positive results of keeping your priorities straight. The minute you consciously identify your priorities, it seems like a constant struggle to live by them... and it is. But as I reflect on who Alex is today and my small role in the process (she has the greatest mom in the world!)-I can honestly say any moment of struggle is worth the end result.
What priorities are you living by that you will one day look back on and be thankful that you stayed the course?