Thursday, October 1, 2015

What Is the Most Important Thing?

Have you heard about the man who was shopping with his baby boy? The obviously distraught and screaming child sat in the shopping cart.

As the man walked up and down the aisles, he calmly and patiently repeated, "Don't yell, Bobby. Calm down, Bobby. Don't get excited, Bobby."

A woman standing next to him turned and said, "You certainly are to be commended for trying so hard to soothe little Bobby."

The bewildered man looked up and said, "Lady, I'm Bobby!" 

It may seem like more than he can manage at times, but if he’s like most parents, he’s in it for the long haul. Being with his son is a priority. There are certainly easier and, at some times, more pleasurable ways to spend his time, but active parenting may be one of the most important things he can do.

Here is an experiment: Every once in awhile pause and ask yourself, “What is the most important thing I can be doing with my life at this particular time?” Then ask yourself, “Is anything keeping me from doing it?”

Robert Reich did just that. As Secretary of Labor in President Clinton’s administration, Robert B. Reich told of his decision to do something almost unheard resign from his high profile and stressful job. He said, in an article published in the Op-Ed sections of the New York Times and Washington Post, "I have the best job I've ever had and probably ever will. No topping it." It was true. He seemed to love his job. But he added, "I also have the best family I'll ever have, and I can't get enough of them." And there was the problem. He could not give himself to his family and to this particular career at the same time.

So Reich concluded, "I had to choose. I told the boss I'll be leaving, and explained why." His boss, of course, was the president of the United States. And the country took notice. Some people were stunned. Here was a high government official who made a decision to step out of an important and powerful position in order to spend more time at home. But like an old Chinese proverb teaches, “He who chases two rabbits catches none.” 

He was wise enough to figure out what was the most important thing he could be doing with his life, insightful enough to see that something else was keeping him from doing it, and courageous enough to pick between the two. What if you asked yourself, “What is the most important thing I can be doing with my life at this particular time?” Then follow it up with the question, “Is anything keeping me from doing it?” What changes might you make?

Are you willing to find out?

-- Steve Goodier

Image: Peck

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