This is going to be an extremely personal post.
It’s about dealing with your business life when something goes horribly wrong in your personal life. If you’re not into that, please feel free to jump to a lighthearted post like Unemployed? Pull Up Your Big Girl Panties & Work for Yourself!
Now moving on…
A few weeks ago, my 4-month-old niece died. It was a huge tragedy for my family. It involved heartbreak, stress, panic, grief and so many other dark emotions that don’t even have names. I was there when she was born and will think of her every day of my life.
For the first few weeks, I just didn’t care about business. I couldn’t look at Facebook. I wanted to punch every person that posted about something trivial like their stupid cats, dinner plans or happy weekend plans. We didn’t have happy weekend plans.
I tried to care about my clients. I think I was pretty good at faking it. NOTHING was important. How could it be when my world was shaken to its core?
When a Wal-Mart cashier asked me if I wanted to donate to a local children’s hospital, I lost it. Right in the middle of a pack of shoppers. I started sobbing and freaked out the poor people around me. And I handed the cashier my donation and told her that I would support anything that helped poor babies live.
I was (and still am) a wreck. My family has good days, and bad days. Yesterday was a bad day. I got to see her headstone for the first time. It has a teddy bear hugging a pink heart. Just writing that makes me want to cry…
But I’m not independently wealthy. I have to work. No one will pay me if I can’t deliver a decent service. I have to move forward past this tragedy, live with the heartbreak, and learn to work with distraction, pain, and stress.
The day it happened, all I kept thinking is do the next thing that needs to be done. Don’t think about anything else. Just do the next thing. Take the next step forward.
My favorite children’s movie of all time is Disney’s Meet the Robinson’s. The movie is about adoption, acceptance, love and family. Since most of my family are adopted and are a bunch of lovable misfits, I really connect to those themes.
The dad’s motto is Keep Moving Forward. It’s from an old Walt Disney quote:
We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.
– Walt Disney
I doubt Disney knew how powerful these three words would be when he said them. He didn’t say them for me, and it didn’t refer to moving past tragedy or grief.
But that’s how I interpret them.
Life is not an easy ride. That’s really an understatement, as life can be a complete s#@t storm. And sooner or later something horrible will happen. And life doesn’t care that you’re hurting, or you don’t really feel like doing anything. Bills need to get paid, customers need to get service, and eventually, you have to work.
It doesn’t have to be a tragedy like my family’s. It can be any situation that punches you in the gut and knocks the breath out of you. It’s when you’re happily riding down the tracks, and life derails all your plans.
It’s whatever makes your life feel like “before” and then “after”.
But we have to move forward. As business owners, we can’t let life keep us down. Maybe for a few weeks, but then we have to figure out how to deal with our business. Do I want to put a fake smile on my face when talking to a client? No.
Do I feel like meeting the next writing deadline? Not so much. Do I want to teach a class this afternoon? Maybe…it’s a good distraction. I don’t want to fail, and I don’t want to lose anything else. I have no choice but to do what needs to be done. Take the next step.
That does not mean we will get over it. I will never get over it. And neither will my family. The point is not to get over it. The point is to keep moving forward.