Daddy, may I borrow £50 please?
It’s Lily and James’s 7th birthday tomorrow (Lily reminded us she was going to turn seven one minute before James).
I want to share with you a short story that I originally read a few years ago.
In fact, I read it most months, as a reminder of what is really important to me. I don’t know if it’s true or not, but I picture myself in the scene and it becomes real to me.
I want to focus on why we all do what we do.
- Why do we go to bed late with a zillion ideas racing around our heads?
- Why do we get up at stupid o-clock to exercise?
- Why do we become obsessed with shiny new things?
I’m sure you have your thing that keeps you going on those days when a client rips into you or your staff makes the same mistake AGAIN!
We take stock, focus on our “thing”, and go again.
It’s really important to keep reminding ourselves of our personal why, because as Entrepreneurs, we’re fortunate to do what we do.
Eight years ago, Jacki and I tragically lost our first daughter, Louise. No one expects death at birth. Our lives changed forever, and I never returned to my CEO role at a PLC.
It’s a crying shame that it takes something of such a huge magnitude to make us realise what is really important to us. It did for me that day and I hope that the short story below helps some of you also to re-focus on what is important to you, whatever that is.
To set the scene a little…
A busy ‘Entrepreneur’ dad arrives home from work late (again) and is greeted by his young son:
SON: “Daddy, may I ask you a question?”
DAD: “Yeah sure, what is it son?”
SON: “Daddy, how much do you make in an hour?”
DAD: “That’s none of your business. Why do you ask such a thing?”
SON: “I just want to know. Please tell me, how much do you make an hour?”
DAD: “If you must know, I make (thinks for a while) about £100 an hour.”
SON: “Oh!” (With his head down).
SON: “Daddy, may I please borrow £50?”
The father was absolutely furious.
DAD: “If the only reason you asked me that is so you can borrow some money to buy a silly toy, then you march yourself straight to your room and go to bed. Think about why you are being so selfish. I work extremely hard every day for such this childish behaviour.”
The little boy quietly retreated to his room and shut the door.
The dad sat down and started to get even angrier about his sons questions. How dare he ask such questions only to get some money?
After an hour, the dad calmed down, and started to think…perhaps there was something he needed to buy as he really didn’t ask for money often. The man went to the boy’s bedroom door:
DAD: “Are you asleep?”
SON: “No daddy, I’m awake”.
DAD: “I’ve been thinking, maybe I was too hard on you earlier. It’s been a long day and I took out my aggravation on you. Here’s the £50 you asked for.”
The little boy sat straight up, smiling.
SON: “Oh, thank you daddy!”
Then, reaching under his pillow he pulled out his piggy bank and started to count the coins and notes. The man saw that the boy already had money and started to get angry again.
The little boy slowly counted out his money, and then looked up at his father.
DAD: “Why do you want more money if you already have some?”
SON: “Because I didn’t have enough, but now I do.
“Daddy, I have £100 now. Can I buy an hour of your time? Please come home early tomorrow. I would like to have dinner with you.”
The father was crushed. He put his arms around his little son, and he begged for his forgiveness.
I make no apologies for this story and still to this day it brings a lump to my throat and tear to my eye.
Still to this day I don’t work Fridays or weekends or late evenings. There’s the odd time when I make an exception, but it has to be a special reason as my “thing” – my why – is Lily, James, Jacki and the memory of our beautiful Louise.
I’ve found there’s nothing that can really happen in my business day, week, month that will deter me from providing what I can for those four people and that is what drives me on, but also ensures that I spend quality time with them all.
So, what is your thing, what keeps you focused and when you have had a bad day, what drives you forward?
In the future perhaps you will dedicate time to taking stock, rediscovering why you do what you do to allow that push you forward to success.
In some way I hope this story helps all of you focus on your Why.