Business

Are you diligent enough to succeed

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One of the great things about not working every day anymore is that I now have the time to be “intentional” about myself.  Back in the day of every day work my routine was get up, shower, a quick cup of coffee with a glance at the daily newspaper, and then off to work by about 7:30 am to put in a full day.  And, as you know about our profession, a full day for funeral directors may mean closing down a visitation after 9 pm and possibly a night call after that.

I worked hard, but I was not overworked by any means.  I had a great team that I worked with and we were able to both enjoy work and our time away from work.  However, when you are in the working world such things as your exercise or your quiet time studies had to be worked in whenever there was time.  I can remember squeezing in a 20-minute run many times when I went home about 4:30 pm for dinner and when I had to go back at about 6 pm to see a visitation family.  It’s just the way a life with full-time work in it is for many Americans, including funeral directors.

I’ve been out of the daily grind of funeral home ownership for 7 years now, but still find some business interests to fill my need for that.  I’m Chairman of the Board of a health care company based in Fargo, North Dakotan.   I’m in my 6th year of serving on the 12-person governing board of the University of Minnesota (and 2020 has been an interesting year with all the decisions that have had to be made re students, faculty, dormitory life, student health, and yes — football!!), and, of course, I’m finding time to write my daily blog.

However, that schedule is nothing like working full-time and I have really enjoyed the past few years getting to a point where I can be “intentional” about myself.  Part of that “intentionality” is a time put aside for learning on a daily basis.  Each year I have picked out a book with a daily reading in it and it becomes the first thing I do each morning. . . even before coffee and checking the status of Funeral Director Daily!!

I’m not one to give big star ratings but the book I am reading this year is entitled “Abraham Lincoln’s Daily Treasure” by Thomas Freiling.  It is said to gestate from a book Lincoln read every day and carried with him entitled the “Believer’s Daily Treasure“.  Just this morning (it is Wednesday as I write this) I read about Lincoln’s thought process that possibly the #1 attribute to success in one’s life work is “Diligence”.  Here quoted from the book is the paraphrasing of Lincoln’s thoughts:

“The leading rule for a lawyer, as for the man of every other calling is diligence,” wrote Abraham Lincoln.  A person can be smart, strong, well-dressed, and even have integrity but still not achieve much in life.  The key, according to Lincoln, is to be diligent.  To Lincoln that meant to persevere and to be thorough and meticulous.  It meant to make a plan and follow it and to be effective.  But mostly it meant to follow through on your task and not give up.  Lincoln knew that diligence could make up for lack in many other areas.  He had little education, no money, and a life full of pain and grief.  Those are not normally the makings of a successful person.  But Lincoln was diligent.  He made up his mind and stuck to his plan.

Reading that really struck me today.  It reminded me of the interruptions that the COVID year of 2020 has given to many of you in business.  However, it also reminds me that if you have a plan, believe in it,  and stick to it, you should come out of this situation with the ability to carry on and move your business forward.

I know that lots of times I had business plans that took time to develop.  At times I would seek out team members, bankers, and consultants for their opinions on the plans.  And, the plans didn’t work by themselves without always watching and being flexible as circumstances around our business changed.  However, being diligent and forming the plan is what always came first.

So, just a thought as we head into the weekend, if your business plans have been well thought out and you believe in them, be diligent like Lincoln and persevere.  I’m pretty certain that the right plan, backed by hard work and diligent thought, can be put back on track even if our COVID world has set it a little off course this year.

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