Published - September 2005

By Dave Jakielo

Have You Counted Your Blessings Today?

It is beyond my ability to comprehend what the thousands and thousands of people of the Gulf Coast region are facing in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. I guess I shouldn't complain about having to cut the grass this weekend.

An associate of mine from the National Speakers Association lived in New Orleans. In addition to being a professional speaker, he also had a thriving CPA practice. Thank goodness he and his family escaped Katrina unscathed. However his home and business were totally wiped out. It's as if he never lived and worked in New Orleans. All evidence of his existence has vanished.

I can't fathom waking up one morning and discovering that you have lost a loved one, your home, and your livelihood. It's as if you were newly born and are entering the world with nothing. Unfortunately, you don't have the same innocence and naivety that you had at birth; you are fully aware of the enormous challenges that lie ahead.

After a tragedy such as Katrina, the tsunami of last December, or 911 in New York City, many of us pause and count our blessings and vow that we are going to keep things in perspective. Some of us promise that we will reorder our priorities to ensure we concentrate on the things we hold near and dear to our hearts, such as our families and friends.

However, time passes and as the saying goes, "Time heals all wounds." Before you know it, we allow ourselves to fall back into the same rut we were in before the immense tragedy struck. We abandon our promise to keep things in perspective. Our priorities shift with the agility of a slinky toy going down the staircase.

Here are just a few thoughts to contemplate as we take pause to reorder our priorities:

How many times have you disappointed a loved one because you just had to get a report done at the office that night or couldn't possibly think of passing up dinner with a client? Such actions are easy to justify by saying, "I'll only miss opening night of my child's play. There will be other nights." That ever-so-important business issue seems insignificant once your entire office has been destroyed. However, your child will always remember that you weren't there.

Do you have a weekly planner so totally booked that you don't have room for one more item? If you do, here's a little tip: every week from now on, block out at least three hours per week for fun "stuff." By the way, there is no standard definition for "fun stuff"; it's how you define it. If you put a little thought into it you could come up with hundreds of fun ideas that would lessen your stress and brighten your day.

Speaking of brightening your day, when's the last time you brightened someone else's day? Many of us are so wrapped up in our own activities, which we think are so important, that we ignore the wants and needs of others. A great way to brighten someone's day-and it won't cost you a cent-is to spend some time talking and listening with an elderly friend or relative. Who cares if you hear the same story every time? It doesn't matter. It's not about you, it's about showing them you care by listening and making them feel important and valued. Remember, you will be in their shoes some day. It's great to live a long life but not if you have to do it alone.

I know the above suggestions aren't earth shattering and they're not a recipe to make the worlds problems go away. However, each of us needs to try to do whatever we can to make the crazy world in which we live just a little more bearable for ourselves and for everyone we come in contact with on a daily basis. Disasters such as Katrina are reminders that we need to keep our priorities straight.

Lastly, I'd like to share with you a saying that just happens to be on the first page of my September 2005 Daytimer, "As we let life take flight into a promising tomorrow, may we celebrate all of our accomplishments, soar with purpose and passion, and take pause to remember the blessings of today."

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Dave Jakielo, Seminars and Consulting, 86 Hall Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15205. Phone and Fax numbers are 412-921-0976. Email Past Articles can be found on my Website - Past columns can be found on the Web at

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