Perspectives and purpose for work and life [VIDEO]
Are you proud of your life’s work?
Last weekend I lost three people through three different circumstances – my uncle, a friend and my mother’s closest friend. In moments like this, all the important work is put on hold and the emotional work begins. It’s sometimes impossible to hit the pause button in the work-life juggle, but the shocking permanence of death certainly puts into perspective what is truly important in living – all those days that lead up to the last one.
I could not get to three funerals so I went to Fran Hruby’s funeral in my hometown of Pueblo. Hruby, 82, was the daughter of Irish immigrants and grew up in Brooklyn, New York. She worked to become a nurse, later moved to Colorado, was a mother of five, a grandmother of 13 and a wife of 59 years to her now heartbroken husband.
Her daughter gave the most beautiful eulogy, full of anecdotes, jokes and seriousness. Nowhere did she mention Hruby’s business acumen, her ability to create spreadsheets, hire or fire, business metrics or strategic planning.
No one remembers her for those things.
She is remembered for her personality, the way she made people feel and her life of service. Hruby had the ability to improve the mood in a room when she walked in. She could easily judge what was worth fighting for and what was worth walking away from.
She was also a devoted friend – the best example of which played out over years with my mother. They both had busy family lives, physician husbands and eventful careers. They created a jogging group in their 40s and together with a group of women friends, ran a dozen of the most reputable marathons across the country.
Here’s my takeaway on the pyramid of what really matters, especially if you are the leader or owner of a business — based on the wakeup call of three deaths in three days:
Take care of yourself. Feel good about yourself and your body. Without your health, you lose independence, mobility and freedom from physical burden. Good health requires daily attention, activity, nutritious food and regular medical care.
Relationships feed a basic human desire of social connection. The value of a spouse or partner, friends, children, parents, extended family, coworkers and even pets are critical to one’s emotions and directly linked to purpose.
It takes some people a lifetime to discover the answer to this query, and others never truly figure it out. But if the ultimate goal is to be happy, one must understand purpose. Purpose can be twofold but not mutually exclusive between career and personal life. Perhaps this seems simplistic, but to know your purpose will help tune out the distracting noise in life that pulls you away from identifying your mission.
It’s far easier to live a life of service when you know your purpose. You can help your neighbor, teachers in your child’s school, or mentor young employees in your company. Whatever it may be, find it and make yourself useful. It will feed your soul.
Money does matter – though it may not always make for polite conversation. Call it financial security, retirement, savings or an operating account; without an income it’s impossible to live. But if you build your life on the pyramid of what really matters, the money will come.
Above meeting everyday needs, money can buy physical stuff, but no one has said to me that money generates happiness, creates purpose, ensures health or builds relationships.
Depending on the individual and the situation, the meaning of happiness is unique to each person.
How do you define pleasure or contentment?
Are you proud of your life’s work? No single slice of life renders one forever blissful, it’s the bigger picture, making genuine happiness all the more elusive for some.
I’ve had several careers in different industries and on different rungs of the corporate ladder. By far, business ownership and leadership has been the most challenging and the most fulfilling.
Contentment ebbs and flows but I continue to be reflective of what I have, of my strengths and weaknesses and most important, how I can what I’ve learned as a pyramid of priorities to prepare my children for their adult future.
There is a Japanese saying, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is now.” So start exploring your happy place where you will find self-worth, achievement, contribution and security.
Hruby’s ability to make others feel good was her gift and purpose. She cared for her patients with the same devotion she loved her family and friends. She was the same woman in every situation. Even though my eyes were filled with tears at the goodbye, Hruby set in motion my future – a model of what matters.
In an upcoming online interview series — Moms Living a Life They LOVE: How to Have a Flourishing Family, a Fulfilling Career, and Fun in the Process — WiesnerMedia Publisher, Holly Scott and other successful working moms share their stories about cultivating the life they always wanted and the unique challenges they've overcome.
The summit started April 3 and 21 moms will be highlighted over 21 days; each interview will be available for 48 hours. After the last interview is released, the replay period will begin, during which all the interviews will be available for 72 hours.