It’s funny how the best laid plans don’t always work out the way you plan for them to sometimes. Take the way 2014 started out for me when I was awakened from a much needed holiday nap to be informed (by my wife) that we had to rush to downtown Memphis to feed 18-20 needy families at the Sisters of Charity house. At first I must admit I wasn’t wildly enthusiastic about the prospect of doing this (particularly on New Year’s Day) but as we made our way downtown my attitude quickly changed.
As a business owner going into 2014, I spent the holidays thinking and obsessing about all things business including my company’s growth strategy, rebounding from a tough 2013, continued economic uncertainty, etc. The usual stuff guys like me worry about because that’s what we are paid to do. Yet for the 18-20 people my wife and I are serving a simple chicken dinner to that afternoon, their worries are on a very different, very basic level. They are hungry and simply need something to eat.
A few minutes after our arrival I observed that they also appreciated someone coming down to simply help them. I recall one lady who must have said “Happy New Year” to my wife and I three or four times while we were there. Really? How happy will her New Year be? Yet her definition of happiness is much different from many of rest of us in Memphis - the fortunate ones. That simple gesture of wishing us “Happy New Year” and thanking us for a hot meal served as reminder (to me and my wife) about what is really important in life and that my worries in business are child’s play compared to other people’s worries.
As I write this blog, I am getting prepared for ISI’s annual kickoff meeting offsite in Tunica, Mississippi which we have done for more than 10 years now. I must say, as always, I am looking forward to the meeting and what the new year may bring. But I also must admit that I am looking at the new year in a different way since my visit to the Sister's of Charity house. There is no doubt that my company (and I) have significant challenges going into this new year with a slumping video conferencing/audio visual industry, widespread cuts in technology spending, etc. Yet somehow I know we will do what we’ve done for over 18 years now and meet the challenges, grind it out every day and get the job done. And my hope and prayer is that we also take the time during the year to pause and consider what’s really important in our community and in life. I know I will.