By John O'Leary. This was originally posted on JohnOLearyInspires.com. When John O'Leary was 9 years old, he suffered burns over 100% of his body and was expected to die. He is now an inspirational speaker and bestselling author, teaching more than 50,000 people around the world each year how to live inspired. John's first book, ON FIRE: The 7 Choices to Ignite a Radically Inspired Life was published March 15, 2016. John is a contributing writer for Huff Post and Parade.com. John is a proud husband and father of four and resides in St. Louis, MO. Order John’s book today anywhere books are sold.
What truly matters most right now?
In the race through the day, it’s not a question most of us ask often. But it’s one I was liberated to answer last week.
The week was packed with activities: Coaching calls, podcast interviews, virtual speaking events, pre-conference calls and team meetings. There were articles to be written, content to flesh out, emails requiring response, strategy to be clarified and problems to navigate.
In other words: work.
And in the midst of work, there are also the profoundly important needs beckoning within my community, my family, and my personal life. The awesome responsibilities of raising, educating and guiding four children to their potential. There is the desire to connect with, love well and still actively date my wife. There are personal goals to strive toward, problems to overcome, distractions vying for attention, Royal Family disputes, and never enough time to get it all done.
In other words: life.
The most successful afternoon I’ve had recently didn’t include a to-do list, 5 a.m. wake-up call or even a laptop.
And it can all sometimes feel like a bit of a grind. It’s easy to simply race through the day, check off the to-do-list, go to bed exhausted, wake up tired, wash and repeat. We seldom pause and ask the question, “What truly matters most right now?”
In the midst of that race last week my mom asked if I could sit with Dad Wednesday. With Parkinson’s disease, he just can’t be left for long periods by himself.
I was thrilled to do it. Figured we’d have a meal together, visit for a bit, and then I’d get back to all my important work.
But as I left the office for their house, I chose to leave my computer behind. Instead of bringing work, I brought a couple of chocolate milkshakes and some BBQ. Instead of achieving anything professionally or striving personally, I prepared Dad lunch, assisted with his medicine, and helped him navigate the complexities of using the restroom.
Instead of doing much of anything, we just visited, sometimes speaking, sometimes listening, sometimes laughing. But mostly just sitting, together.
When work and life get too busy we forget what truly matters.
And it was one of the most meaningful, beautiful, successful days I can remember.
My friends, while racing through life, and creating checklists, and checking boxes, it’s easy to lose sight of who and what matters most. It’s common to buy into the lie that the more we accomplish and accumulate the more successful we’ll feel.
The global pandemic over the past year has taught us much. One vital lesson we would be wise to remember is the fragility and preciousness of life.
Sometimes we can only recognize the grandeur of that miracle by slowing down long enough to take inventory of our blessings, the gift of relationships and the power of love.
And one of the best ways to celebrate those blessings is to choose to be fully present with the individuals who matter most.
This is your day. Live Inspired.
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