Monday was a really bad day. It started at 11pm, the previous night (Sunday). I woke up with a huge pain in my side, the classic case of a kidney stone. I tried to go back to sleep, hoping that I would discover that it was just a dream. It wasn’t. After a fitful few tries, I got up and walked around. I have had a number of kidney stones in my life, and they usually measure way up on the pain charts. This one was a 6 or 7 out of ten. Tolerable.
The problem was, I was over 200 miles from home in Bakersfield California, spending the night in a hotel for a two day training gig at the start of the week. Why do things like this always happen at night and on the weekend? I was up and down over the next few hours, trying to get some sleep and then trying to figure out what to do. Kidney stones are sharp little crystal rocks that form in the kidney and then must pass through a small ureter to the bladder. It’s when they are in this little tube that they cause excruciating pain. It’s like getting a very sharp rock in your shoe. For me, this little trip down the tube usually takes two, three or four days. The fix… the doctor gives you strong pain meds, and tells you to go home a drink lots of fluids until the stone passes.
Now I had a quandary. With this kind of pain, I knew the training was out for the day, but I certainly didn’t want to be alone in a hotel room for days on end with no one to help. As these things move, they can easily register a 9 or 10 on the pain scale. At 4am, I made a decision. I found a couple of old pain pills in the car that I had put there years ago after a previous stone. I would pack up, take the pills and head back to San Diego County. This would help me beat traffic and get home, where someone could help me. I sent emails to my company, the school where I was training, and to my wife explaining the situation. Then I headed out. The next four hours were miserable. Up and over the Grapevine. I tried to get comfortable, but each bump was a painful reminder of that sharp little stone buried inside of me.
This four hour trip was more than painful, it was also one of those times where you really think through your life. Ask the tough questions. Pray.
As time rolled on, I stopped a few times. I called in as soon as the school opened to let them know what was happening. I then called my company.
I never wanted to be home as much as I did right then.
Dorothy from the Wizard of OZ was playing in my head. There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home...
I started questioning things.
Why was I training so far from home?
How could I make things better?
I even threw in a few, Why me’s?... but those didn’t help much.
Then I thought about Michael Hyatt’s thoughtful question… What does this make possible?
That question prompted some answers…
After reading Greg McKeown’s insightful book Essentialism earlier in the year, I decided that some things need to change.
I need to say NO more often. I need to take a leadership position in my life. I need to go from good to great. Create a signature life.
Only I can change myself.
If I’m going to train, it needs to be incredibly helpful.
If I’m going to write, it needs to be memorable and drive readers to make a change.
If I’m going to speak, it needs to be motivational with a powerful call to action.
Just going through the motions doesn’t cut it. Life is too short.
It’s funny how pain can change your perspective.
That good enough isn’t…
I came away with one thought going forward.
If I’m going to put my signature on it, it had better be excellent.