Last week I wrote about “What If…”. What if we made some changes to the way we do things. After I posted the article, I sat down and began working on my calendar for the week. Much the same stuff as the week before. It is hard to find “extra” time to do “extra” things. How am I supposed to go help other people? Change is hard. It isn’t like I am sitting around for hours doing nothing. I watch about 2-3 hours of TV on the weekends (not each day, but the whole weekend). I don’t watch TV during the week. I struggle to find enough time to do the things that are already on my “to do” list. As a father of four young, active kids, there is always something to do and some activity to go to. Finding time to get out of myself and into other people’s lives is tough.
These days, our society tends to put off helping others as someone else’s job. It is easier to make a financial donation to an organization than a time donation. We are too tired, too busy, or too broke to help someone else. Truth is, we have the time, energy, and money to do the things that are important to us. No matter how tired and busy I may be, if someone offered me tickets to the Rockets playoff game, I would manage to find the time and energy to go. If someone offered me a killer deal on a particular piece of audio gear, I would find the money in the budget. If it is something important to us, we can find the resources to do it. What it comes down to is this. Is helping this person or working on this community project important to me? Is it something that I believe in enough to invest my time, energy, and money toward?
I remember a time when I would spend countless hours and personal finances in making sure the projects I was working on were done well and on time, particularly related to some community and church theater groups I have worked with. Producing a quality show that taught a good, positive message was fun and energizing. There was also a time when I would help anyone that needed help if it were at all within my ability to do so, even to the point of giving up something that I wanted for me. At some point in my journey through life, things began to change. As I got married and had kids, I now have other people in my life who depend on me. My focus began to change from others to myself and my family. While this is not a bad thing, one does not have to be done at the exclusion of the other.
Change is hard. For me to make some changes to invest in other people, unfortunately will require taking time and energy away from something else. I say unfortunately because that means that I am not already investing my resources into the lives of others like I need to be. But the biggest change I need to make is not in how I use my resources, but how I think.
I began my career in the medical field many years ago. Most of us in health care began in this field with the idea of helping people. Most of you are the same. We begin our careers as teachers, engineers, sales, or whatever career you have chosen, partly for the income, but also with the thought of making the world a better place in some small way. Along the way, it is common to begin looking at what we do as a job and less of a service. The people that appreciate our help seem to be few and far between. Our focus begins to shift toward what is best for me and how I can improve my life. Our stress levels increase, our energy levels decrease, and, ironically, our personal satisfaction decreases. The very thing we are chasing is getting further away as we focus more on ourselves and less on others.
The change that needs to be made is really just a simple change of thought. With that change, we will find ways to help others. As our focus becomes on others, we will become more effective in our chosen careers and, perhaps, that is all that is needed for you to make a difference in the lives of other people. Sitting and listening to a patient or family and helping them think through things, even when I don’t have the time. Focusing on the details of that next engineering design or process that will take the project from done to great. Remembering the names of a few frequent customers as they come through your line at the grocery store. Life is more about attitude than it is effort. A little effort with a positive attitude will be much more effective than a lot of effort with a poor attitude. A change of thought will lead to a change of action.
As we go through these next Six and a half days, remember it is really just a change of thought.
So… what are you doing for the next Six and a half Days?