On Thursday, January 15, 2015, I was driving back to Wahoo from Lincoln when I received the call from my wife, Kim. After several weeks of fatigue, increasingly worse headaches, several doctor appointments, and various negative tests, a CT scan showed a mass on her brain. The only additional information offered by the doctor in Wahoo was that we needed to go directly to the University of Nebraska Medical Center for further testing.
The following Wednesday, after a biopsy and another procedure to reroute the cerebral spinal fluid, we received another gut-wrenching phone call: the tumor is malignant.
Since the diagnosis, we have learned, grown, and found some clarity in the areas of faith, family, health, and business. Three principles stick out most to me as it relates to business.
First, you better love the people that you work with. Fortunately for us, we do! The love and support that we have felt from the people that both Kim and I work with has been more than we could have ever imagined. Their support has been a HUGE help as we navigate this journey. And, while I would never wish this journey on anyone, I wish everyone could feel, as we have, the blessing of knowing how many people care.
Second, you better have someone you trust to do your job. Fortunately for us, we do! In fact, we have multiple someones capable and willing to temporarily take over our responsibilities. I have always remembered a lesson my mom shared many years ago regarding indispensability. She said to stick your finger in a glass of water; if the hole stays when you remove your finger, you are indispensable. Knowing what the results would be, I never actually performed the test. But this lesson has led me to a certain mindset about whatever job I do: I can either hoard my knowledge to create a perceived “need” for my presence, or I can share my knowledge and allow others to grow, which allows me to grow. Plus, an added benefit to sharing knowledge is that it allows others to more effectively step in for one another so an organization does not miss a beat when someone is gone.
I cannot imagine how I would have felt or functioned had I needed to focus on work for the initial weeks after the diagnosis. The diagnosis created a fear of what was ahead and a need to focus on Kim’s health and treatment plan. This fear and need to focus on Kim would have made my efforts in the office completely useless. Instead, I was encouraged to take time off and I had complete confidence the company would seamlessly continue to function during my absence.
And finally, you better love what you do. Fortunately for us, we do! Loving the people that we work with is a big part of this. But the job itself, for both Kim and I, is immensely gratifying. I knew once the majority of the upfront doctor appointments were taken care of and the treatment plan was laid out, it would be time to get back to work. And I was excited to return. Unfortunately, Kim has not been able to return yet, but her desire to get back to work is part of what is fueling her fire to push through each day’s treatments.
It has been two months since we received Kim’s diagnosis, and it has been a trying time for our family. Yet as we strive to find our new normal, the step back from our previous routines has brought great clarity to the blessings that have been in front of us all along.