A young and successful executive was traveling down a neighborhood street, enjoying his new Jaguar. He was watching for kids darting out from between parked cars, and slowed down when he thought he saw something. As his car passed, no children appeared. Instead, a brick smashed into the Jag's side door. He slammed on the brakes and backed up to the spot where the brick had been thrown.
The angry driver then jumped out of the car, grabbed the nearest kid and shouted, "What was that all about? What's your name? This is a new car and that brick you threw is going to cost me a lot of money. Why did you do it?"
The young boy was apologetic. "Please, mister ... Please. I'm sorry, but I didn't know what else to do," he pleaded. "I threw the brick because no one else would stop." With tears dripping down his face and off his chin, the youth pointed to a spot just around a parked car.
"It's my brother," he said. "He rolled off the curb and fell out of his wheelchair." Now sobbing, the boy asked the stunned executive, "Would you please help me get him back into his wheelchair? He's hurt, and he's too heavy for me."
Moved beyond words, the driver tried to swallow the lump in his throat. He gently lifted the disabled boy back into the wheelchair, then took out a linen handkerchief and dabbed at the fresh scrapes. A quick look told him everything was going to be OK. "Thank you," the grateful child told the stranger.
Still speechless, the man simply watched the boy push his brother in the wheelchair down the sidewalk toward home. The damage to his Jaguar was highly noticeable, but the driver never bothered to repair the dented side door. He kept the dent there to remind him of this message: Don't go through life so fast that someone has to throw a brick at you to get your attention.
My sister Margie is constantly telling me to stop and smell the roses. In other words, slow down. I just love to go fast and cram as many things into my life as possible. It's not that I don't enjoy things; I do. I just get bored if I'm not busy doing something I like to do all the time.
When I am asked what I would like on my tombstone when I die, I answer, "He couldn't sleep fast enough." In other words, I'm afraid if I sleep too much, I'll miss something. I'm well aware that if I were growing up in this day and age, I would be labeled as hyperactive. I've always needed to be busy. That's not a bad thing, if you know how to use your time constructively and can learn to focus.
I work almost every day, but I take time off for my hobbies, which include international travel, spectator sports and lots of golf. My wife, Carol Ann, and I are movie junkies. We also have family who visit us on a regular basis, and with 11 grandchildren, this keeps me grounded.
You try to strike a healthy balance between your work life and your personal time. But when a new project lands on your desk or the busy season hits, you may feel helpless and frustrated. Here are some strategies that I use to get through the busy times:
• On again, off again. Schedule one to three days when you will plan to work late or start extra early. Schedule the other days as your normal work hours. Set realistic goals both at work and at home. Knowing you have days of reprieve will help you get through the longer days.
• Marathon and rest. Sometimes your work may leave you with no free time. Run the marathon, committing to working extra-long days for weeks or even months if need be. But set a definite completion date. Focus on getting work done while keeping expectations realistic at home.
• Above all, remember life is short. When your priorities are out of whack, everything suffers. Commit to being the boss of your life.
Mackay's Moral: If you see a brick wall ahead, make a U-turn and find a better path.
Harvey Mackay is a Minneapolis businessman. Contact him at 612-378-6202 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.