As I thought about what that will mean for you, I was reminded of a trip I made with my family some years ago to Disneyland. We live in Florida, and so we were fortunate enough to visit Disney somewhat often, but I remember one very special visit, like it was yesterday.
Me and my family had just seen a beautiful show, and Disney (being the brilliant marketers that they are) had us exit the show through a gift shop where you could purchase all kinds of souvenirs from the show. There was NO WAY you were going to escape that shop, without buying some kind of trinket!
My kids were picking out what they wanted when I literally bumped into an elderly African-American gentleman, who, in a way, reminded me of my father. He was grinning from ear to ear and he was picking up bundles and bundles of gifts with an excitement and joy that I’ve rarely seen.
His absolute glee was contagious! Before I could say anything, he began to tell me his story. He said that he could not believe his eyes, that something as wonderful as Disneyland existed. He had been a coal miner his whole life, and he had finally decided to take his first vacation after something like 40 years working in the mines. Through the joy, I could see the wear and tear on his body, and that his job had been hard on him.
But he wasn’t letting that stop him that day! He was happily pulling out wads of cash to buy all of his grandchildren whatever they wanted. He said he couldn’t wait to go back home to tell all his fellow coal miners that they HAD TO take some time off and come to see this magical place that would blow their minds …
I looked at him with joy, but also a little sadness. As I said, he reminded me a little of my father, who was also a hard-working man. So, I couldn’t help feeling a kinship with him. But I also felt very sad for him.
Because I realized that he had waited 40 years to taste a little life. He had waited decades to step up and enjoy a big, wide world that was there waiting for him. He had waited all this time to enjoy his grandchildren and had missed precious moments with his own children. I was glad that he had this time, but I also felt his loss. Beyond the joy, I could see the regrets in his eyes.
Pastor Myles Munroe used to always ask this question: Do you know the most expensive real estate on the planet?
No, it’s not Disneyland (although you would think so with the prices … lol);
No, it’s not The White House;
No, it’s not Buckingham Palace in England …
No it’s not Fort Knox where the U.S. gold reserves are held …
It’s none of that. The most expensive real estate on earth is the graveyard.It’s the most expensive land in existence because that’s where far too many dreams, goals, and fortunes go to die, without ever being realized. There are literally trillions of dollars of unfulfilled experiences buried in people’s hearts at the graveyard.
I’m so glad that this dear man got to experience that moment of joy before his death. Before that day, we had never met. But in that moment, we both knew that his lost time would never be recovered.
I meet many C-Suite Women each year based on my work, coaching and charity activities. Sadly, many of them are heading in the same direction as this dear man. Buried behind our desks in our quest of being competitive with our male colleagues, we oftentimes overlook the very underpinnings that propelled us to our rise in the first place!
It may have been a supportive partner, or we may have wanted a better life for our kids, parents etc ... Whatever or whoever the motivation was, it is oftentimes subverted as we self-actualize. We do not want to wake up one day and realize we gained the whole world but lost what was important: family and friends.
In 2019 I challenge you to live more, love more and incorporate more balance in your life. Thank you C-Suiters for being the inspiration for a whole generation of women!
Now go out there and enjoy the fruits of your labor!
Sharon Gill is the Chief Operating Officer of The Gill Law Firm, a Delray Beach, Florida-based law firm that focuses it's practice in the areas of commercial debt recovery, small business services and nonprofit startups. She can be reached at 561-454-0301 or at firstname.lastname@example.org