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It’s been a little while since I’ve posted here. All excuses equal, we have had wonderful travel through the USA and returned home to some family issues that took priority over business.

On our way home from America, I sat on a QANTAS flight listening to another passenger abuse (and there’s no other term for it) the flight attendant for not providing the service he ‘expected’. In reality his complaint was that the type of red wine he preferred was not available.

He took it upon himself to educate the unbelievably patient crew member on how important he was, how important his business was to the airline and how, if this wasn’t recognised, he would take his business elsewhere.

How one does this at 40,000 feet I have no idea but by this point I’m assuming the flight attendant would have welcomed that action!

After a broken night of sleep, through a 14 hour flight, we drove for 90 minutes from the airport and returned home feeling jet lagged and tired. Mark had picked up a cough that had headed straight to his chest and we were feeling a bit sorry for ourselves to be honest.

I opened my email to find jobs unfinished and pressing deadlines with my VA having taken ill. For a time I forgot how much I love travel and how fortunate we were to have just spent two weeks in America with some of the top internet marketers and financial coaches in the World.

I just wanted everything to stop for while so I could go to sleep and catch up. Like the man on the plane, I was wallowing in thoughts of ‘didn’t the World know who I was???’ But then suddenly it did….

The phone rang and our middle daughter, Kathryn answered. Her face immediately fell.

You know ‘that’ look – shock, fear, sadness, disbelief, confusion. Her hand up in a stop signal told us to hold our questions – yet we continued to beg for details.

When she finally found the ability to speak through her tears, Kathryn told us there had been an accident, and our Son-in-Law’s twin Brother was dead.

The World Stopped.

We all looked at each other not knowing how to react or what to say. A young man, so full of life was gone – in an instant. The tears flowed as the reality kicked in of the wife and 2 babies (20 months and 3 months) he had left behind.

And just as suddenly, the jet lag lifted and the thoughts of entitlement disappeared. In the blink of an eye, things that had seemed so important and over whelming, simply didn’t matter any more.

We spent a couple of days in a fog supporting family, coming to terms with the loss and assisting where we could and as a result our business suffered.

I realised suddenly that I needed to let our customers know what was going on. With a single email I excused myself for my absence, explained we had had a family tragedy and apologised for any delays with projects.

In the wash up of this week, I learnt some valuable lessons about life, business and myself.

Firstly, I’m stopped sweating the ‘small stuff’. In comparison to facing Christmas without my Son, Brother, or Husband and Father of my two small children, the things I was stressing or complaining about really didn’t matter.

It’s easy as a business owner to let things overwhelm you when you are ‘everything’ to your business. I felt if I stopped then our business did too. This realisation has caused me to completely re-structure and re-engineer our business.

I’ve developed a system now where I have back up and have outsourced key tasks to a highly capable team (I’ll talk more about outsourcing in my next post). I’ve discovered this is not only important for our own sanity but also to deliver on time for our customers (they have their own priorities and pressures to work to as well).

I also discovered that in the last two years, we had attracted the most incredible, understanding, wonderful clients. Without fail every single one of them took the few lines in my email to them and understood. I appreciate them more than I could ever express in words.

So, the point of this post for all of you?

Yes there is a message of keeping things in perspective, thinking about what’s ‘really’ important and not ‘sweating the small things’ that really don’t matter. But there’s also the lesson in structuring your business the smart way.

If you are currently indispensable in your business, then it’s time to put an escape plan in place.

What happens if you get sick? Or need time to support family? Or are delayed in transit etc etc etc

Use this post as a push towards designing a business that works with or without you (at least for a period of time). A linchpin you may be but having your business dependent upon you is a dangerous model.

The upside is that our business is stronger as a result of what has occurred in the last few weeks. We have developed wonderful relationships and joint ventures with contractors, suppliers and staff members, that I probably never would have without circumstances demanding it.

We now have an expanding business, a support network to call upon and a growing team. Plus we value our clients like never before and are going out of our way to deliver at levels above and beyond what we have ever done.

And in recognising what really matters in life, we have discovered a lot that just really doesn’t. All that ‘small stuff’ that we get so caught up in that we really don’t need to stress about.

So this Festive Season, ‘don’t sweat the small stuff’, hold your family a little closer and tighter than usual, tell them how much you love them and focus on what truly matters.

Mark and I will have a red wine to toast all of you over the holidays and, I assure you, we won’t give a second thought to what variety it may be.

Merry Christmas