Periventricular Leukomalacia (PVL) is a form of brain injury most often found in premature or low birth weight babies. It’s often caused by decreased blood or oxygen flow to parts of the brain, or damage to the cells that support neurons throughout the nervous system. PVL affected infants generally exhibit motor control problems or other developmental delays. In other words, nobody wants PVL in their family!
Yet, as the young couple explained how relieved they were to know AT LAST why their young son wasn’t developing right they were smiling! They said the doctors told them that even with PVL Cy might one day be able to walk and talk like other children. Plus they had learned that PVL isn’t congenital. So therefore they felt Cy just may have a brother or sister some day!
As I listened to these courageous parents I was reminded of some profound words of wisdom I received from a very wise consultant, Bob Jacobson, when I was a young (and very frustrated) entrepreneur. I had been fretting over the usual litany of slow sales, negative cash flow, and employee problems. Since Bob was a very gracious man he patiently listened to my long list of complaints. Then he asked me four questions that changed my life forever!
Bob looked me straight in the eye and asked “Are you in love?” I wasn’t exactly sure where he was going with his question, or even why he asked it, but I answered “Yes. I’m very much in love with my wife.” He then said, “Does she love you?” Once again, not knowing exactly how the answer to his question was going to help my poor cash flow, I replied, “Yes, Bob. As far as I knew Karen loves me too.”
His third question was, “Are you healthy?” At the time I was still running competitively and was in reasonably good shape, so I answered, “Yes, I have been blessed with reasonably good health.” And then finally Bob inquired, “And is everyone in your immediate family healthy?” By now even to me it was clear he was setting me up so I replied, “Yep, we’re all good!”
And of course Bob hit it out of the park when he summed it up by saying, “Chuck, if you love and are loved and everyone involved in this love including you is healthy you’ve got it made! Stop worrying about your business. We can fix that!”
He went on to explain that businesses will come and go but being loved and in good health are the truly important things in life. When you get those two things right you can face the challenges of business from a much stronger foundation. (And you can face your company’s problems head on.)
To this day Bob’s four questions stand as some of the wisest words I’ve received in business. (And I’ve passed them on generously over the years.) They appear to be timeless. While challenges in business will never go away (although they should change) the longing to be loved and to be healthy remains constant.
Is it frustrating when your customers string you out by not paying their bills? Sure. Is it unnerving when a competitor wins one of your best, long term customers? Absolutely! No doubt there are times you want to scream as you struggle to get your employees to do their jobs. (Or to even show up for work … much less on time!) But there is a cause and a solution to each of these business problems.
In the grand scheme of things all business challenges and issues (even as overwhelming as they may feel at the time) pale in comparison to the loss of love or to debilitating health.
Thirty years ago Bob Jacobson had it right and it’s right to this day. When you’re healthy and in love business is a piece of cake!