Daddy, may I borrow £50 please…
This month I want to share with you a short story that I originally read a few years ago, and again last year; in fact I read it most months, as a reminder of what is really important to me. I don’t know if it is true or not, but regardless of that I picture myself in the scene and it becomes real to me.
I’ve written about the importance of the basics in your business, and shared the Entrepreneur’s Curse, but now I want to focus on why we all do what we do.
Why do we get up at stupid o’clock to drive several hundred miles for a two-hour meeting? Why do we crawl into bed with our head spinning with a million ideas at three o’clock in the morning? I am sure everybody has his or her “thing” that keeps them going on those days when a client rips into them or that member of staff makes the same mistake AGAIN! We take stock, focus on our “thing” and go again.
It is really important to keep reminding ourselves of our personal why, as in all honesty we, as Entrepreneurs, are very fortunate to do what we do.
Five years ago on February 19th, Jacki and I lost our first daughter, Louise as she died at birth. At that time I was not an Entrepreneur but a CEO in a large organisation and I was a driven person working all the hours I could But not after the 19th. Mine and Jacki’s lives changed forever after that day.
It is a real 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 (could be a mum) arrives home late from work. This is a usual occurrence and after opening the door and walking into the lounge is met by his young son, the scene then unfolds as follows.
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 or some other nonsense, 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 went 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 about an hour or so, the dad had calmed down, and started to think…Maybe there was something he really needed to buy with that £50 and he really didn’t ask for money very often. The man went to the door of the little boy’s room and opened the door.
DAD: “Are you asleep, son?”
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.
For me, if Louise had of survived I would have rarely seen her due to my working life back then, and I am sure I would have justified all that effort and time in my job as being for her and my family, and do you know what I may have actually believed it if I had said it enough times.
But from that day forward I decided that was not going to be my life. I soon resigned from my role and re-entered the world of Entrepreneur (I started my first business in ‘91).
18 months later in October 13’, Jacki and I had twins; Lily and James and I kept my promise to my family re: my working time. Still to this day I don’t work Fridays (in fact it’s the title of my soon to be published book). Now there is the odd time when I will 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 have found there is 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? Perhaps in the future 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 my story of Louise helps all of you focus on your Why.