“Don’t let making a living prevent you from making a life.” – John Wooden
John Wooden was both a great basketball coach and a great life coach to his players. I suspect that the philosophy he expressed in today’s little saying was something that he worked hard at making his players understand. It is all too easy, especially in one’s younger years, to become focused, even driven, by the challenges of making a living and accumulating possessions and wealth.
There are few lessons in the schools that one goes through on the way to adulthood that are focused upon getting one’s life priorities in order and understanding the value of human relationships as opposed to material goods. Quite often it is well into adulthood, or maybe even during the declining years of life, before many really
understand what is truly important in life verses the transient feeling of success that comes from that new possession or that extra money from a raise. Sometimes it occurs when a child finally moves away and you realize that you missed most of their growing years in pursuit of that next monetary reward. Sometimes it’s when you’re dancing with your daughter at her wedding. Sometimes you just awaken one morning and think, what the hell happened? Where did my life go?
If you sit and reflect back on life, the things that stick out or come to mind seldom have to do with the jobs and success you’ve had in them, but rather it’s about the people and the times that you enjoyed with them. You realize that what life you’ve made that ismeaningful, you’ve made with those that you love and who’ve loved you in return. They did not give you that love because you got a raise or promotion at work; they opened themselves up to you because in those few moments that you focused upon them, there was joy and fulfillment. Don’t you wish that you had more of that and less of the things that you’ve accumulated?
In my real estate business, I get to work with people just starting out in life and those winding down at the other end. I find that couples at the far end of life who finally embrace the concept of downsizing and living a more simple life that is focused on each other are usually much happier than those whose lives are too busy with a focus upon“getting ahead.” That’s all quite natural. It’s usually only later in life that accumulated knowledge finally reaches a critical mass and turns into wisdom and out of that wisdom comes an understanding of what’s really important. That’s what Coach Wooden was trying to pass on to his players in today’s little quote. I suspect that the reaction was often, “Yea, right. Well, I gotta go now.” Youth is almost always impatient and arrogantly dismissive of advice from the older generation.
There are all sorts of “Stop and smell the roses” pieces of advice to be found in hundreds of famous quotes and all of them seem to point back to the need to come up for air from time to time and look around you and understand what’s important in life. It’s usually not what you’ve been focused upon doing as you try to “get ahead.” One might ask; ahead of what or of whom and why. I understand the need to make a living and to provide for your family; but keep in mind that “providing” for your loved ones also means giving them more than just possessions; it means providing them with some of yourself – your time, your attention and your love. It means taking the time to make a life, not just more money. So spend your time wisely this weekend. The job will still be there next week, but the opportunities that you have to accumulate experiences and share your love with the important people in your life will have passed. Come up for air and look around. Have a great weekend.