February 10, 2019

He swapped 27 acres for this

I spotted him from a distance as I walked in the early morning, with my 94 year old Papa, around his quiet, beautiful Palm Bay (Florida) estate.

Big, barrel chested he was, with a shock of white hair… this man, being taken for a walk by his tiny, fluffy dog. They looked an incongruous pair as they approached us.

As usual, my Papa immediately launched into conversation, as if with an old friend.
And it was mere seconds before the grinning big-man-with-the-tiny-dog told us his recent story.

Turning around, he pointed.
“Yeah, that’s ma liddle biddy house now. And aaa’m loving it!”

He was from the Mississippi coast. (Sorry, I just can’t replicate the accent. So let me stop trying.)
“Twenty seven acre garden. with seven cars parked in the drive of my beeeootiful big house.
Man, I upped and sold the lot in less than a week.”

Of course we were intrigued. So we asked him ‘the obvious’.

“Well now. My ex-wife and daughter live right here. And, see, I still love them both like crazy.
So, when this little biddy home  came up for sale, right across the road from them… And here I am!”

(My home could probably fit in his garage. Well, not quite. But you know what I mean.)

I was still intrigued. So I asked another.

“Happy? I should say so!
Don’t think I’ve ever been happier in my life.
We all take turns to cook for each other. We go out and stroll around some lovely places. The river and the sea.

All those things I had… They weren’t worth missing out on this.”

And he smiled; a little tearful.

Twenty seven acres and seven cars obviously seemed like a lot of fun at one time.
But ultimately, he wasn’t prepared to swap a deep, underlying sense of joy for the momentary pleasure and strutting pride of More and More.

And so, I believe, it is in business.

Scaling up… growing… competing… dominating a market…
These are all excellent, exciting, driving aspirations, and create much innovation, satisfaction and fulfilment.

Yet for everything we choose there’s a trade-off.
If I choose to invest my time, mind and heart in one thing…
Then I choose not to invest it somewhere else.

It’s a universal mathematical certainty.
No human being can ‘Have It All’.
At least, not all at the same time.
No matter how much we pretend that we can.
There really is a time and season for all things under Heaven.

So – taking into account my one precious life – I just need to make sure that I invest each day in what, ultimately, Matters Most.
Then – whatever frustrations life and business throw at me – I’ll look back, and know that those days were truly, gloriously worth the living.

And I’ll smile.