What is Truly Important?

Many years ago I read a book by Richard Carlson entitled, “Don’t’ Sweat the Small Stuff… and it’s all small stuff.”  You may remember that book and may have even read it yourself.  I thought about that book and its theme because of a recent family tragedy, and I thought that as we embark on this new era (according to the Mayan calendar, at least, the world as we knew it ended), it might be worth revisiting.

Over the course of our lives, we are confronted with situations that require our courage, our strength, and our wisdom.  Sometimes we act wiser and with greater strength and courage than at other times, and that’s natural.  What I have learned over the many years I have been at this thing called, “life,” is to concentrate on those things that are most important, that contribute most to my true happiness and well-being.  I am a compassionate and considerate person, so I know I will always have others’ interests in mind, as well.  As a recovering people pleaser, however, I am careful to not focus on others to my own detriment.

As parents, we may be faced with the dilemma of disciplining a child or deciding that a particular action doesn’t warrant that level of attention, which is the “pick your battles” scenario.  Some decisions come easily, and others require that courage and strength, especially when there are no rules that govern or guide us.  This brings me back to the book and its theme, that we are well served by focusing on the truly important things in life and to realize that much of what we believe to be important may actually be rather unimportant.

As you think about the time ahead and how you will live this life with a new focus, evaluate those things in your life that you give most of your attention to.  Are they truly the most important, or do they have an urgency that seems to insist?  Sometimes we pay more attention to things that seem “urgent,” whether they are truly important or not.  In any given moment, consider what is most important, “right now.”  What will help you get closer to a goal or make you most happy?  What can you do that you can be most proud of when you reflect sometime later?  What will have the greatest positive impact on your relationship with your children, spouse, and others who are most important in your life?

When I am breathing my last breath, I will not wish I had spent more time at the office.  I will be most proud of those moments I spent doing things that brought me the most joy and that made a positive difference in the lives of those I love.  When you concentrate on what is truly important, you will realize your greatest joy.  How cool is that?

Ethics, Common Decency, or Are we asking too much?

Greetings All:

I know, it has been a long time since I’ve written.  I will not feel guilty, however, because I have been really busy, and if you really cared, you’d have written to ask me if I was okay.  🙂

That being said, isn’t it amazing that there are people out there we trust and respect because of the credentials they have or the positions they hold, and they turn out to be just like any other person who lies, cheats, manipulates, and otherwise violates the most common rules of ethics and decency?  I am really amazed at that, and perhaps that is more a sign of my naiveté or idealism than a sign that there is somehow a shift in the statistical probability that some people with “respected credentials and positions” are really nothing more than liars and cheats.

Case in point:  Three doctors connected with Harvard have been found to have lied about money (more than $1 million each over the past several years) that they received from pharmaceutical companies for consulting in connection with certain studies of medications used in the treatment of various psychological conditions (including bipolar disorder).  An oversight?  Perhaps it was pocket change and they just forgot.  Sorry, I don’t think so. Read more about the above and the latest developments, here: PsychiatricGroup Faces Scrutiny Over Drug Industry Ties

There is a really cool open-air mall near where I live.  One of our favorite restaurants is there, a huge Rave Motion Pictures theater, and some wonderful shops, including Victoria’s Secret, Ann Taylor LOFT, PacSun, Starbucks, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Coldwater Creek, and many others.  Everything is nicely done, they provide shuttles and valet parking, and it is just a great place to go.  Recently, they’ve pulled back on some of the services.  It seems the guy who founded the company and was it’s CEO liked fancy cars, big houses, and several other luxuries, but he ended up violating some basic rules of business leadership.  He used company funds to fund his lavish lifestyle and failed to pay creditors and others who helped him grow his business. Sound familiar? All too!

A recent investigation by the BBC reveals some 70 court cases in the US that are not being reported by the news media because of a “gag order” by the Bush administration (censorship, anyone).  The cases are related to more than $23 billion that has been either diverted, stolen, overcharged, or otherwise improperly accounted for in the war in Iraq.  Halliburton, one of the companies involved, is reported to have quoted on a contract worth $7 billion for which they were the only company to quote (or allowed to quote).  Yes, they got the contract.  That is the very same Halliburton investigated for a variety of issues whose chairman was Dick Cheney prior to his becoming Vice President.  Yes, there is more to the story, but that will do for now.

Is it just greed?  I think it is more than that.  I think it is fear.  Perhaps that is too simple, but I really think it boils down to fear.  Greed might simply be the fear that if they don’t get “it” in whatever way they “have to,” then they won’t get “it” at all.  And if they don’t get “it” at all, then they believe (and are afraid others will believe) that they are failures.  It reminds me of a couple articles I wrote for business publications a few years ago, one of which was about the “Dog eat dog world of business.”  For more, check my earlier post. The short of it is that we create a world represented by what we believe.  In some cases, there may actually be some more deeply rooted, psychologically based issues, but that is for someone else to discuss.

It seems to me that people who continue to live their lives based in fear and the related attitudes of greed and competition will continue to destroy what they have built, including the relationships with those who supported them on their way to fulfilling their dreams.  I have compassion for them because they don’t know any other way.  On the outside, they seem to have everything, but on the inside, most of them are likely empty, always chasing something external in the hope that it will bring them more fulfillment, more joy. Until they learn the lesson, the chase will continue, unfulfilled.

One of the presuppositions of NLP (neurolinguistic programming) is, “There is no failure, only feedback.”  What might the people I mentioned earlier have accomplished if they knew they could not fail?  What will you do knowing that you can do nothing less than succeed?

Wishing you all the best!