Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Dealing with the Monster

Whatever your career passion, be it music, business, sports, you name it . . . there can come a price to pay for total immersion. The rush of saturating ourselves in the fast lane on a one track pursuit can dead end us in a place we never saw coming. That thirst for success and recognition can become the monster that consumes us.

Witness Peanuts comic strip writer Charles Schultz. Life seemed perfect back in the early 60's, made to order. His family enjoyed an idyllic homeland with all the country surroundings one could dream of, the fruits of intoxicating success. Seeds were being sown however - seeds of his family taking last place so that the all-consuming career could continue to prosper. Success grows and has its way of demanding more and more time and energy. It never seems to retreat. How does one say no to the next grand opportunity? It becomes natural to escape family responsibilities in order to give attention to what got them there.

But fast forward 30 or 40 years and that happy home is history. To say that the business flourished is understatement. Peanuts had given him all the world could offer, but at the price of shattered relationships within his own family. Acknowledging even himself that the career never satisfied, Schultz's last days were spent with tragic questions about life, its purpose and its worth. He said he felt like he was Charlie Brown and never got to kick the football. Someone had always managed to pull the ball away at the last minute while he flew head over heels and crashed.

In our drive to do well, even to excel, it is vital to step away often, to see what and who is ultimately most important. Balance is the over-simplified answer, easy to say, hard to remember, especially in the daily pursuit of our God-given talents and abilities. How much more successful and happy would be the man who excels as much with his own family as in his work. What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole world and looses his own soul, and his own family?

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