Making “A’s” Without an “A” Game

November 28, 2018

Each of us faces days where we just don’t “have it.” Those who rely on the spoken word find difficulty with expression and annunciation. Others that exert themselves physically find their strength compromised and stamina diminished. Writers experience “block.” Athletes such as baseball pitchers can’t seem to direct the ball over the plate; golfers struggle for solid impact with their 2-iron.

When these times occur how do you compensate?

I posed this question to an executive client recently. A bright young man, he was sharing with me his philosophies for communicating with not only peers and subordinate staff, but customers as well. Highly and impressively articulate during our conversation verbiage seemed to flow effortlessly from his tongue. It was clearly apparent that he had a remarkable gift for dazzling people with linguistic mastery.

His response to me about compensating for his “off” days was simple: “I focus on listening well.”

I considered his answer in the context of not just work, but finances, health, and relationships as well, The Big Tripod, as I call it.

Money. Almost everyone has faced, will face, or is now dealing with financial challenges. Bills pile up. At just about the time there appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel, another surprise comes in the mail.

How do you react? There are some good fixes. Prayer can be an ultimate remedy. Developing a budget, following a careful tracking of current expenditures is also a start. Seeking advice from a financial counselor is beneficial. Each of these solutions includes one common element, however: action. Act to consult Scripture to research passages related to money management. Begin collecting receipts of payments, bills, and expenses over the next 30 days to determine outflows and evaluate that vs. inflows. Contact a financial advisor and ask for assistance in developing a workable plan.

Health. Too often we take it for granted. Cold and flu season is upon us. During those times that we feel just a little bit off, maybe it’s a good chance for one of your best, trusted employees to make the presentation in your stead. Check an easy item or two off that day’s “To Do” list. If you’re really under the weather, be considerate of others. Stay home. For many work these days can be conducted remotely.

More serious health issues requiring an extended period of incapacitation will require humility. Allowing others to assist actually helps and fills them. Convalescence can also be a time of reflection. Many who feel up to it turn to writing, art, and study. In the late 19thcentury Civil Engineer John Roebling became disabled as a result of an incident from a project he was working on. For the next 13 years he was unable to visit that job site due to his condition. That assignment was nonetheless completed through communications with his nurse, companion, confidant, and…wife, Emily.

Today we can still enjoy the Brooklyn Bridge.

Not only do we marvel at the feat that was that edifice, but perhaps more so at the marriage partnership of the Roeblings.

Relationships. Like a ship at sea there are ebbs and flows. Sometimes the waters are calm, the weather delightful, sailor morale high. Other days are fussy, off kilter, maybe downright nasty. As is the case with financial hardships, relationships require action during these times. Approach the health of that relationship with humility.

Sage wisdom can be gleaned from the advice of that young executive—focus on listening well. The late Leadership Guru, Stephen Covey’s third tenet of highly effective leaders, “seek first to understand…” is not a bad “go to.”

Inspiration comes from leaders, athletes, and members of the clergy who rose to the occasion in spite of afflictions, illnesses, and hardships. Franklin Roosevelt was stricken by polio prior to being elected as our 32ndPresident. Seeking to be an example to a nation that was then in the throes of economic depression he reached back for his greatest mental and physical strength, dragging cumbersome leg braces to the podium to rally a hurting populace.

During the 1997 NBA Finals, a flu-stricken, dehydrated, and exhausted Michael Jordan scored 38 points against the Utah Jazz, almost singlehandedly willing the Chicago Bulls to a critical game five win in that series.

Pastor Peter Marshall grew up in Scotland and came to America for seminary. Here he met wife Catherine, who was soon felled by tuberculosis. Eventually, she recovered, however, caring for her, their small son, and a growing pastorate eventually took a toll on his own health. Still his spiritual path took him to the honorable position of chaplain of the US Senate. Prior to his passing of heart disease at the age of 47, Marshall remarked, “The measure of life, after all, is not its duration, but its donation.”

The Seed Sower