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Leadership Thought #272 – Family First, Everything Else Follows

December 28, 2011

Free People Standing in Front of Wood Pile Stock Photo

“Family first” is a good motto to live by.

We’ve all heard the saying that when someone is near the end of their life they don’t look back and wish they had worked more, but instead focus on how they tended to their family and close personal relationships.  It’s also been said countless times that when you die you can’t take your money with you.  Moreover, after you’ve accumulated a certain amount of wealth, what’s the point of earning more?  Is it just to keep score or boost an ego need for self-importance?

Our society values the accumulation of material wealth, fame, and power over all else.  I’ve seen other people sacrifice everything to “become somebody.” Well guess what, they are already somebody – we all are.  Everyone is someone’s son or daughter.  Most of us have siblings that we shared our childhood with.  We also usually have aunts, uncles, and cousins.  More importantly, as we age, many of us create our own families and become parents ourselves.  The legacy that we leave will be how we affected those closest to us and whether we made their lives richer and better because of our existence.

I am certainly not anti-wealth.  Providing for our families and donating to those less fortunate is a responsibility we should all embrace.  In addition, hard work should be rewarded.  Delayed gratification and financial discipline should be encouraged.  Society needs people with discretionary resources to invest in things besides just their own survival.   However, money should be the ‘means”, not the “end” objective.  Family and other close personal relationships should come first ahead of all else.

There are no “do-overs” in life.  We get one chance to live our journey and make things right.  While death bed conversions and family reconciliations make good fodder for Hollywood, they are rarer than you think.  You can’t make up for lost time or misaligned priorities in one final conversation or the last few months of your life – the damage is already done.  Personal grudges have an unfortunate way of becoming firmly cemented with time.  There is no better time than the present to assess where you stand in terms of your family and personal life and make positive changes.  As I’ve stated many times in other blogs, remorse and regret are useless and unnecessarily painful emotions.

We are celebrating the end of one year and the impending arrival of a new one.  What better time to reflect and plan than now?  I encourage you to make 2012 your best year yet.  I genuinely hope you make strides in your career and feel a growing sense of self-worth and accomplishment.   However, I highly recommend you put your family first and allow everything else to follow this mindset.  It doesn’t matter where you are currently situated in the family relationship life continuum.  Just be the best spouse, father, mother, brother, sister, son, daughter, aunt, uncle, and cousin that you can.  I believe you will find your life becomes richer as a result and the people you love will return your intention.