Friday, November 30, 2007

Family, Business, and Focus

I've been distracted lately. Distractible would be a better way to put it.

My father is almost exactly thirty years older than I am. That puts him in his mid-eighties. He's taken good care of himself, but a decade or so of smoking (he quit after health problems with tobacco became known in the late fifties), a childhood lung ailment, and a much more recent infection finally caught up with him.

With the exception of some trouble with short-term memory, his brain's working as well as ever. But, he's having the dickens of a time getting oxygen in, past a damaged set of lungs.

He, me, my wife, and our kids, are dealing with a set of transitions now. We're helping him move out of the house he's been in for some time. Our second-oldest daughter is taking care of much of that, since she currently lives only an hour away from him.

He's as logical and practical as ever, and realizes that he's going to have to move into town, into an assisted living facility: but that doesn't mean that he likes it. He also recognizes, as I do, that his life expectancy is now much less than what it was before the most recent infection.

On the other hand, a few years ago he told me that he'd been to one of those websites that calculate life expectancy (I assume, from the questions asked, that they use data from actuarial tables). He keyed in the data, and, if my memory serves, found out that he'd died about ten years previously. Or, rather, that he should have.

I've got a good, close, relationship with my father, thank God. I know that people have a limited time to live, and that death is one of the few things we can count on happening to us.

Just the same, the prospect of not having my father's experience and wisdom to fall back on is disturbing.

And, it's playing hob with my ability to focus on what needs to get done. Not that my focusability factor was ever very high.

What's the point of all this, as far as a small business is concerned?

This is obvious, but I'll say it anyway: having a family, in fact any human connection, is going to interfere with doing business.

The trick is to achieve a working balance. And, in my opinion, keep in mind the observation that nobody, facing death, ever said "I wish I'd spent more time at the office." That's not just my opinion, I see. The advice to "get a life" is in a "Forbes article: so it should make business sense.

After all, one of the reasons I'm trying to set up a sort of online publishing business is that I want to be around my family.

Granted, another reason is that I got laid off in my mid-fifties, have discovered that I can't do the lift-and-carry jobs that I could manage a quarter century ago, and that central Minnesota, delightful as it is, doesn't have much demand for someone with my qualifications.

Oh, well: this is a great opportunity for me to get creative in a new, and largely untested, kind of business.

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