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Edition 361 – Stoic

Early New Year saw Trish and I ventured to Tamworth to spend a couple of days with my mother and stepfather. As regular readers may recall, my Mum was diagnosed with Lung Cancer in August last year and has been undergoing both chemotherapy and radiotherapy since.

I knew Mum had lost her hair, a common side effect of chemotherapy, but I still wasn’t prepared for how confronted I may be at the sight of a bald mother. As she entered the room, the once tall, slim lady whose hair was always immaculate was replaced by a shorter, hunched woman, bearing the tell tale signs of undergoing cancer treatment. In a short period of time, the illness and the treatment have aged her, physically.

As we caught up and talked about life, her treatment and what’s next in the regime, what struck me was how stoically she’s dealing with her fight. She’s incredibly optimistic about the end result, a quality I’d not suggest was always a part of her makeup.

Mum has proven very disciplined, not only about the regime of treatment she must undertake, but the health and lifestyle changes that are necessary to turn her health around. She gave up a 60 year smoking habit one day after being diagnosed. She doesn’t mind a drink, but has remained teetotal since commencing chemotherapy, at the advice of her doctors.

Similarly, her knowledge of her treatment and what needs to happen is easily recalled as she appears to have embraced all the relevant technical and medical detail. In a perverse kind of way, it’s almost like a cancer diagnosis is the shot in the arm she needed to understand what her purpose in life is and what she needs to do in terms of her health. Years of me (and others) badgering her about giving up the cigarettes came to nothing and it’s only hearing the words “you have cancer” that appear to have motivated her to make some serious life changes.

The same happens with each of us in small and family business. We neglect what we shouldn’t, until a crisis erupts. Then, it’s all hands on deck to make sure we steady the ship of state.

More often than not, we respond to a negative rather than a positive, when it comes to making changes in our businesses and in our lives.

Equipment isn’t serviced until it breaks, then it’s panic stations to ensure we keep production up to speed.

We don’t think much about how we service our clients, until we lose an important one, thus changing our marketing focus, or in some situations, commencing it!

We take for granted the contribution made by good staff simply because it happens, every day. Then, out of the blue, someone says they’re on the move. Neglecting the career development of our team looks as if we don’t care, so they move on to where they believe someone will.

For Mum, it’s a long road back. She understands that and is committed to beating cancer and maintaining good health into old age. She’s invested in being around a bit longer and has definitely turned a negative into a positive. It’s a lesson for all of us.

This Week’s Tip

“What are the little things you take for granted that truly are valuable to your family business?”