Archive for relationships

The Importance of Relationships

planeLosing a friend this week reminded me again of the importance of relationships and nurturing the roots of our life. My friend, August was 84 and died of cancer he didn’t know he had. His suffering at the end was quick, going into the hospital on Tuesday, losing consciousness on Wednesday, and passing into eternity on Saturday morning. I knew he and his wife for fourteen years. They were married ten years ago, she lost her first husband in 1988 and he lost his wife not many years after that.

August was a sailor, a Navy Warrant Officer, proud of the uniform, proud of his country, proud to have served his nation. We shared war stories often. He honored those in uniform whenever given the chance. Every Memorial Day, every Flag Day, every 4th of July, every Veterans’ Day, whenever an opportunity came for special recognition of veterans in church or public events, he humbly stood with the crowd of veterans, but looked around and applauded the young men and women who stood with him, the volunteers who are protecting our nation today.

August was a father. He made mistakes along the way as we all do. In getting to know August over the last few years, especially as his prayer partner the last three years, he reflected on “redo” he’d like to have with his children. But growing up in an abusive home, never seeing how love and discipline should be expressed, he did what he thought was right, even knowing there was a gnawing feeling that it wasn’t. Regrets and long past memories are difficult to overcome without nurturing the spiritual root. Over the last three years in focused discipling, August did that. He found peace with himself, his God, and longed to share the same peace and joy with his children.

August was a husband. He loved his wife. At our weekly breakfasts together he spoke most often about her. He shared about their trips together and the joy they found in those. He share about her painting and the drive she has. He share about her faith and the way she manages to weather every storm that come into life. He shared so many stories and events that showed how much he cared for her. Sometimes he talked about the work he did for her in the flower beds, in the house, in the art gallery, in other places. He found it hard to keep up with her sometimes, but he worked hard to do it because he wanted to be where she was and aid her in whatever way he could.

August was a friend. He took time for people. He didn’t get in a hurry. He talked to anyone who wanted to talk. He would share time with the waitresses at the restaurant where we ate each Wednesday. He stopped to talk at the register. He talked in the grocery store or in the lobby at the church. Wherever he went, he was ready to spend time with people. He understood that people need relationships and was just ready to be there to lend whatever hand he could, even at 84.

We will miss August, but because he nurture the five roots of his life – physical, family, spiritual, emotional, social – in the end, I think he felt fulfilled. I think his last years were filled with joy and a peace that comes from knowing who you are and living life to the best you can each and every day. He did that. He couldn’t do much about the past except ask forgiveness and forgive himself. He had taken those steps and found peace. Now, in his faith belief and mine, he is at rest with his Lord.

Enjoy your celebration, my friend!

be the best w. arrow


Set Priorities with the 95% Rule

Reading one of Talane Miedaner’s Life Coach blogs reminded me of a rule I’ve tried to use for several years to set priorities. It goes something like this: “95% of everything you do today doesn’t matter, so find the 5% and do it well.” When I started using that rule a hundred years ago, it was an 80% rule, but as I’ve matured the number gradually grows. I expect in another few years it will change to the 99% rule.

Some of you are skeptical and don’t quite get it yet, so let me explain the concept in a little more detail. You see, we get overwhelmed with life too often. We allow ourselves to worry about things that no one really cares about in the long run. We lose out on the important because of the urgent when the urgent will disappear without a thought and no one will remember it tomorrow. If you think about it, most of the things you do and most of the things that happen to you today, you won’t remember next week or even this time tomorrow. And no one around you cares about it either.How-to-Set-Priorities

I find it really interesting with what we do for work at the expense of family. I’ll have to admit I’ve been guilty in the past. I had to get that report done. I needed to make one more call. I had to meet one more client. Hogwash! When I left the assignment or the company or the job, my position was filled in no time and no one cared whether I was there or not. Life goes on for the company. But I can never get back the ball games missed, the recitals unheard, the birthday parties where I showed up late, or the anniversaries when I was out of town. Those are gone forever.

How about that report that must be done by close of business? Who’s going to read it at close of business? Will it lay in the inbox until morning anyway? Why miss that important event? Make a deal with the task master and come in early to deliver it so you don’t miss that once in a lifetime special event. If your boss makes you miss the event, you’re probably working for the wrong boss. Start looking for different work! That said, there are certainly times when work needs to come first, but not often. There are times when you need to come first. There are times when family comes first.

Priorities are fluid

Priorities are fluid things based on a lot of factors. I’m not a big fan of a making a hard and fast inflexible priority list except that God is at the top…period. Apart from that, when I was writing the medical support plan to make sure 135,000 soldiers had the right medical care in Desert Storm, that task took priority over my family for the moment because of the gravity of that task. It didn’t mean I didn’t love them or care for them, but the situation dictated they took a back seat for a period of time until that task was done.

Sometimes, I’ll recognize from the tone of text or phone call from a family member that a crisis is unfolding and walk out of a meeting because family is more important than whatever meeting I’m in. If I lose a sale because of it, so what. Family is more important than any amount of money that meeting might have brought to me. One word of caution about living with flexible priorities. You need a strong compass and those close to you must understand how you operate. Communication is key.

So what’s the real secret to discovering the 5%? Usually, normally, most of the time the 5% will deal with eternal things and relationships. That’s it. That’s the magic formula. Nothing else matters much. Material things disappear and just aren’t that important. If you don’t believe that, ask hurricane victims or flood victims. Stuff can be replaced, people can’t. Take care of relationships and the rest will fall into place.

What do you think about the 95% rule?

Do you have a comparable philosophy?

How do you set priorities in your life to keep well-balanced?