Saturday, July 26, 2014

Stop the Knee Jerking – It’s Time for Common Sense!

"Vikeholmen Lighthouse" Norway; 16 x 20 acrylic on canvas
I received an email from a friend; a copy of an Obituary printed in the London Times. If you haven’t read it, you may enjoy its wisdom as much as I did:

 “Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape. He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as:
  • “Knowing when to come in out of the rain; 
  • Why the early bird gets the worm; 
  • Life isn't always fair; 
  • And maybe it was my fault.  
“Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don't spend more than you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not children, are in charge).

“His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a 6-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.

“Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children.

"Innsett Kirke" Norway from long ago; oil on canvas (SOLD) Prints available
“It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer sun lotion or an aspirin to a student; but could not inform parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.

“Common Sense lost the will to live as the churches became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims.

“Common Sense took a beating when you couldn't defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar could sue you for assault.

“Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement. 

“Common Sense was preceded in death,
-by his parents, Truth and Trust,
-by his wife, Discretion,
-by his daughter, Responsibility,
-and by his son, Reason.

“He is survived by his 5 stepbrothers;
- I Know My Rights
- I Want It Now
- Someone Else Is To Blame
- I'm A Victim
- Pay me for Doing Nothing

“Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone.”

"Skudeneshavn Norway" 16 x 20 oil on canvas (SOLD) Prints available
How can we apply these gems of wisdom to our own lives?

Reason tells me that to own a business requires sacrifice, endless hours of time, dedication and devotion to duty. Skill building and education are a given. Late nights, early mornings and weekends may be required to give it all I've got. Marketing and exposure are part of the deal. Exhaustion and singleness of mind may put me through a financial and emotional wringer. Failure looms overhead like a whip driving me even harder.

Common sense reminds me that I have a family and outside commitments. I must make trade-offs and weigh my options. The things that matter most shouldn’t suffer at the hand of things that matter least. Youth is here for a short time; we cannot bring it back. We must find a balance and do our best. Priorities must be set. We must find the middle ground.

Success beckons me from the wings. If I can’t do it in eight hours, by golly, I’ll give it 10 hours or 12. This is my business. My baby! The kids will just have to sacrifice football camp and dance lessons. Some day they’ll appreciate it! Once I get over this first hurdle, I’ll have more time. But then another hurdle comes and I'm at it again, consuming valuable funds and precious time.

Common sense measures expenditures against actual sales. What have I spent and what did I get for it? Is the business costing me more than I’m taking in? The adage “It takes money to make money” can only go so far. At some point I must take my losses and reassess my goals, my options. Would an online business give me more “bang for my buck?”

Ego makes it hard to quit. Failure is not in my vocabulary. I fight the inevitable. I struggle on when I should turn back. I see my family floundering and I don’t know what to do. If I give up, my financial dreams and theirs go out the window. 

Common sense cuts to the chase. Either the business is working for me or it isn’t. How much time and money is enough? The only failure in failure is not seeing when it’s time to quit. The ending may also be a beginning of something else. Once my head clears, the pieces to the puzzle fall into place. Solutions materialize. Anxiety dissolves. Mistakes clarify the changes that must be made. Life is a process.
"Anhinga in Paradise" water color, matted and framed.