Word Count: 1057
Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes
“To succeed today, you have to set priorities, decide what you stand for.” – Lee Iacocca
The Ask and the Yes
“You wanna play with me?” This is one of the questions I get asked by our 4-year-old daughter during the course of a day. It mostly happens in the evening after I finish work and she gets home from school, but she repeats it even more on weekends.
Tired as I might be, I always find myself saying “yes!” If for nothing else I say it to see the joy and excitement on her face. After about 30 minutes of playing with dolls and drinking tea from a princess teacup, she decides to engage in some solo playtime to which I am not invited. But there is no sadness on my face, only appreciation that I was included in some part of her daily playtime.
For those thirty minutes, I am immersed in her world of castles, princesses, imaginary tea-drinking, singing, and dancing. What I thought would exhaust me further actually refreshed me. The tiredness from the day’s occupation became a distant memory. This is the power of engaging in priorities. They renew and replenish us.
While most of us chase opportunities hoping they will bring us some fulfillment, I have discovered that being grounded in your priorities is what makes the opportunities we have and use meaningful. Author James Clear says, “Modern society is defined by an excess of opportunities.” And they can keep us from thriving in our priorities when we see them as more important. A priority is what comes first in your life. Priorities show what you value in order of importance. An opportunity, on the other hand, is a chance or a moment in life that occurs for us to something we want to do. In weighing priorities and opportunities, I don’t view them as contradictory but rather complementary. When both are placed properly they create a balanced quality of life.
Here are 2 statements I carry with me as a reminder of the power of priorities:
1. Priorities help me grow
Twelve years into marriage and two kids has taught me that priorities are an impetus for growth by way of responsibilities. Without priorities, we can become ossified in old ways of thinking that serve no benefit to the life we are meant to live. At the core of successful living, there are character-building priorities that supply sustaining power to the opportunities we get.
My priorities fuel me to be my best in every opportunity I receive. I could say that my priorities have given me the boosters I need to rise to the occasion and be my best in each opportunity that has come my way.
One of the greatest opportunities for me has been writing. I see it as a privilege each time to write words to inspire, edify, and add value to you. But my writing grows because I am engaged and responsible in my priorities. I am a better writer because my writing has not interfered with my priorities. This means, my priorities make us better in my opportunities. Actually, most of the inspiration and examples I use for my writing come from what I have learned in my priorities. My writing has become fuller and richer to the extent of my engagement in my priorities. And my best work is still ahead because as I grow in priorities it shows in my writing. And this growth gives hope that there is better on the horizon.
Stagnancy arrives quickly at the door of anyone who abandons their priorities to chase opportunities. Despite wanting to succeed, Chick-fil-A founder, S. Truett Cathy affirmed, “I was not so committed to financial success that I was willing to sacrifice my principles and priorities. One of the most visible examples of this is our decision to close on Sunday.” And Chick-fil-A is one of the most successful fast-food restaurants today, despite it being closed on one of the most profitable days for the food industry. By learning that our priorities help us grow into our opportunities we can remain centered on the signal of what’s essential.
2. Priorities keep me centered
Organizations that want to improve their health to become more efficient begin with prioritization. They look at areas where inefficiencies and redundancies are stealing necessary resources from what’s important. Then, they center themselves on their defined priorities and focus on how to maximize their bottom line with those priorities in mind. For example, an organization may decide its top priorities are its employees, customers, and giving back to the community. Using this, they can apply their energy and time into ensuring these three areas are always receiving their utmost attention as they play the biggest roles in the company maintaining its competitive advantage in the marketplace. And companies that stick to their priorities, like Chick-fil-A, eventually grow in profit over time.
Similarly, we must be specific about getting centered on our priorities if we are to live our best lives now heading into the future. You can engineer a profitable life by staying centered on priorities. Do you know what your priorities are? How much of yourself are you giving to each one?
Final thought: At the end of our lives, we will not be remembered by the opportunities we took advantage of, but more so the priorities we were engaged in and centered on. Eulogies always reference the values that a person stood for. They also highlight the impact a person had through the priorities that they were responsible for. Save your “yes” for your priorities. You will tap into a level of strength and growth that your opportunities will benefit from. Get immersed in them. They will give you sustaining power in your opportunities and bring you joy minus any regrets. As Truett Cathy once said, “I’d like to be remembered as someone who kept their priorities in the right order.” My final question this year to you is, “How will you measure your life?”
Keep on keeping on!
PLEASE RECEIVE MY HEARTFELT APPRECIATION FOR READING AND FOLLOWING MY BLOG THIS YEAR. YOU ENCOURAGED ME MORE THAN YOU WILL EVER KNOW.
THE FIRST BLOG SERIES OF 2020 TITLED, “THE PLACE WHERE IT ALL BEGINS” WILL COMMENCE ON JANUARY 9TH.
MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A JOYFUL AND FRUITFUL NEW YEAR!