About a month ago my 65 year old Mom suffered a stroke. This is her 3rd in 5 years and it has had some life changing impacts. She is now 80% blind. Her short term memory seems to clear itself about every 15 minutes. Her historical memory is scrambled…and she has no recall of many significant events in her life. She has trouble processing new information or making sense of her world—and sometimes she gets a little hard to handle (understatement!). She’s scared and overwhelmed. I’m scared and overwhelmed. We’re all scared and overwhelmed.
She is in rehab now, at a nice facility near my home. The staff is kind and caring. The therapy is top notch. I know she’s getting good care and is exactly where she needs to be. But I’m faced with ‘daughter/survivor guilt’.
At first, I was going every day for several hours to be with her. Having a familiar person there helps calm her. But, it is not an easy thing for me to do. Having the same conversation every 15 minutes isn’t easy. Having her frustration directed at me for putting her in this place isn’t easy. And watching her struggle to make sense of her world isn’t easy. I started to get rundown. My kids started making comments about me ‘leaving AGAIN” to go see Grandma. My business was suffering. I was suffering.
So, my brother gave me some incredible advice. He said “Shawn, you have to spend yourself in the places where you can affect the most change.”
When I’m home for dinner with my kids and helping with homework, I’m strengthening my family. When I’m enjoying time with my husband at a football game or just sitting on the couch watching a show together, I’m investing myself in a great marriage with a great man. When I’m working I feed my spirit and impact the lives and businesses of my clients.
Now the hard reality. When I’m with my mom, she’s comforted in the moment. But 10 minutes after I walk out the door….she has no memory of me being there. I have not affected any long term benefit. If I stay an hour or 3 hours—no real difference is made. But I have taken away from my family, my business, myself. Understanding where to focus my time and energy has eased the guilt and helped me find some peace in the recovery process. Recovery takes a long time (we’ve been down this road before) and I’m in it for the long haul. Peace is a requirement if I’m going to make that journey successfully.
This is a long story but I don’t tell it for sympathy. I tell it because it is singlehandedly the best advice I’ve gotten in a long, long while.
“Invest yourself where you can affect the most change”
It applies to business. It applies at home. It applies everywhere.
Where can you invest yourself today that affects the most change?