Monday, March 31, 2008

5 Things I Learned From the Sniffles

by Karen D. SwimI have not been sick in nearly a decade. The last time I was ill, I accidentally threw my pager away…on trash day! When I returned to work, I asked my boss for the dreaded paperwork to replace it. It was then she laughed and said the sweetest words: “You can replace it if you want but you don’t have to carry one. After all, what kind of emergency could there be in marketing?”

I had carried the pager as a Sales Manager. I had six sales reps that covered a portion of Southern California. I had since become a Regional Marketing Manager covering 200 sales reps in seven states and no longer needed a pager. I realized that I had needlessly subjected myself to the “always on” merry-go-round. For the first time in my corporate life, I learned that when you are not “always available” people actually figure it out, without your help! My service to my customers did not suffer and my productivity actually improved.

Last week, fever, aches and chills once again felled me, and once again, there were a few life lessons in store for me.

  1. Without an endless supply of energy, you are forced to focus on what is truly important. Sometimes the inability to do it all brings the realization that you do not need to. It is sobering to realize how much of your time has been invested in activities that were neither critical nor valued.
  2. You let down your guard. With my defenses compromised I took risks that I would normally talk myself out of taking. I did not second guess my writing or self-censure ideas; I simply focused on getting it done. The good news is that if you fail, you can simply blame it on the fever.
  3. It really is all small stuff. All of the things that had worried me before I got sick quickly became “no big deal.” The sun continued to rise and life went on.
  4. You become important. On a long list of to-do’s we often put ourselves last. We may tend to the basics but how often do we turn off all of the distractions and tune in to self?
  5. Chicken soup really is good for the soul. Even the vegetarian kind.

I do not recommend getting sick to shift your perspective. However, as you look to the week ahead how will you be spending your time? Does your schedule reflect what you truly value? If you got sick, what would be the first thing that you eliminated?

While on the subject of illness, I am thankful that mine was minor. There are others fighting far more serious battles. Todd Andrlik’s sister Tricia had a bilateral mastectomy last Saturday. Many in the marketing, blogging and social media communities are uniting to help Tricia with the medical expenses. There are several ways that you can offer your help. Visit to meet Tricia and pledge your support.


Joanna Young said...

Good for you for learning lessons from a head cold - befuddles the best of us. I think remembering to look after ourselves is the most important one of all - and keeping it on our 'to do' list even when we're better.


PS This looks suspiciously like a numbered list to me - is this something else you've caught? :-)

Anonymous said...

I'm so pleased for you that you were able to look for the positive in an experience many of us can only view negatively. Your optimistic look on life is so inspiring.
Keep it up!

Words For Hire said...

@ Joanna, lol! I knew you would pick up on it and yes you are contagious, but in a very good way! I laughed when I started to write because it was very much a Joanna thing. :-) Thanks for inspiring me!

@ Amy, you were the catalyst for showing us all the dragon. Thank you for allowing us all to learn from that reflection.


Todd And said...

Thanks, Karen, for your support! It means a lot to me and my family. I'm amazed at how quick the social media community is to respond to a fellow blogger in need. Prayers are the most important thing, so please keep them coming! Thanks!

Words For Hire said...

@Todd, I will be diligently standing in prayer with you, Tricia and your family. God bless you!