Labor Day Message: Love Family & Friends NOW

Your eulogy won’t be about the office!

Labor Day is a perfect time to suggest that our lives aren’t supposed to be all  about work. In the tough global economic environment, everyone is working  harder out of necessity and most of us find it difficult to take a break from work, even on a mandated holiday! Sometimes I feel guilty abandoning work to live out  the shared dreams of my family. But it’s so much better to feel guilty about the office than to miss my daughter while she’s still with us at home. That’s becoming  evident to me now more than ever since she started high school this fall. Her childhood and our time with her is just flying by.

I have been especially struck by some recent eulogies heard at funerals that I’ve attended this past year. The grieving loved ones never mentioned the extra time  those departed souls spent in the office. No… instead they were remembered  and admired for the love they shared with family, friends, and community and even for the customers whose lives they had touched.

When I reached out to friends that I hadn’t seen in months to invite them to  Bonita’s birthday this summer, it was eye-opening and heart wrenching to hear from so many friends whose lives had been impacted by sudden changes of fate during the past year. The co-author of one my books has been enduring very challenging health problems and yet is still inspiring everyone with his undaunted enthusiasm for life and work. Several other friends and family are battling cancer of every kind, including my wife’s beloved father. It felt good to talk to so many  people whom I’ve missed during this busy year, but it was also a warning.

Whatever the dream you have for your life or your family, do it now. Carpe Diem.

On a trip to Africa in the 1990s, my wife Bonita and I were working with an  organization called Save the Children. We were in the midst of the busiest time in our professional careers, but on that trip we made the life-changing decision to become parents (before it was too late). We had been together 20 years already and we were in our early 40s when we were finally blessed by the arrival  of our sweet little girl. We had been constantly traveling the world for years, and couldn’t wait for Vanessa to be old enough to join us on our adventures—especially to see Africa, the cradle of life. We dreamed of exploring the world  together and showing our daughter many cultures and natural wonders.

In this brief video, my daughter and I share a moment of our dream. (Thank you, Sir Richard for the invite to Ulusaba in South Africa!) Over the past 7 years, Vanessa has visited more than 40 countries with us and I’m not regretting a moment of any professional sacrifice we might have made to have the extraordinary life that we share. As Jack London said, “I’d rather be ashes than  dust.”