It wasn’t 20 years ago today. It was probably in September or October. But twenty years ago this Fall, I came down with Rheumatoid Arthritis. RA in an immune disease that causes the body to attack itself. Basically, the immune system goes into overdrive.
This week, I turn sixty years old. I’m very happy about that, and about the fact that I am generally healthy. I have the usual “old man” stuff. I take a pill to keep my cholesterol down, and I just started taking one to keep my blood pressure down. But I am not crippled. And I rarely walk with a cane.
When I found out that I had RA, the doctor said that we had about ten years to get it under control, or I would be too crippled to work. Thankfully, after a few years of horrible pain and even more horrible medications, they got it under control.
I am not quite at the point of being thankful for this chronic disease. It will, in the end, shorten my life. And it certainly brought me a great deal of pain over the years.
But, first of all, I absolutely acknowledge that most people are worse off than I am. So RA just happens to be my challenge.
And, second, dealing with RA is literally the origin of Relax Focus Succeed. While I have always tried to be balanced and grateful, RA helped me to realize how incredibly productive and successful I can be without working myself or my employees to death.
Early on, twenty years ago, I did everything I could that might help me to get on top of this disease and still be productive. Two items that found a permanent place on that list are yoga and meditation. I was also building a business, so I got in the habit of exercising, meditating, and then reading books that I considered inspiring.
Even today, I cannot work as much as most people. I get tired easily, and a little bit more each day. So I need to work short days and I absolutely have to take days off. In other words, I have to relax in order to have the energy I need to get work done.
Somewhere in all that reading, I synthesized one lesson that has become central to my personal and professional life: Prioritize Everything! And that leads to a fanatical commitment to focusing on the most important thing that needs to be done at any time. Step one: Prioritize everything. Step Two: Always work on the single most important thing that needs to be done. This we call focus.
And there you have the basis for my success over the last twenty years of dealing with RA: Relax, Focus, Succeed!
Focusing on the most important thing you need to do is absolutely central to this process. It literally amplifies your efforts. Focusing on the most important items has the side benefit of making several lower-priority items irrelevant.
Anyway . . . I am 60 today, but celebrating the 20th anniversary of a disease that changed my life. And I’m looking forward to the next twenty years.