Sunday, June 09, 2002

Learn to do it now

Small business

By Rhonda Abrams
Gannett News Service

        The call came to my office in the middle of a hectic morning. I heard my Aunt Frieda's shaky voice on the phone, “Linda died this morning.”

        My cousin, Linda Siegel Levin, died Wednesday, May 29. She was young — only a few months older than me. “Was it expected?” my friends asked. My answer: “Yes and no.” For the last few years, Linda had struggled with a rare cancer, but it looked like she was going to make it. She didn't. The truthful answer would have been, “Of course, it was expected. None of us lives forever.”

        And that's what this has to do with business. None of us lives forever, so we have to learn to do what we want to do, need to do, now.

Carpe diem

        I'm not going to be one of those who chide you: No one ever said, “I wished I'd spent more time at the office.” I know better. Work is a vital part of life, enabling us to develop a sense of achievement and pride. We will regret those things we wanted to do in our work lives, as well as our personal lives, that we put off until too late.

        Linda wasn't like that. She was a woman who lived life fully — whether it was family, work or fun. She successfully started and grew a thriving exercise studio, years before many women owned their own businesses. It was like Linda to be a groundbreaker. Linda was fearless and confident. It would never have occurred to her that she couldn't do something or wouldn't succeed.

        Linda took life in her own hands; she didn't wait for life to come to her. How she met her wonderful husband, Lionel, was an example. When Linda saw Lionel across the room at an event, she thought he looked interesting. So she just walked straight up to him. “What did you say?” I asked her, finding it hard to imagine being as direct as Linda. Her simple, logical response: “I just said hello.”

        How unlike Linda so many of us are! Even when we see something we'd like to pursue, we're afraid to take the first step — to walk across the room — to go after it. We dream, but we never get beyond those dreams. We let the stuff we think we have to do get in the way of the things we really want to do.

Keeping control

        Or once we actually run a business, we still lose control of our lives. We let the little things take over. We go to one more meeting, answer one more phone call, send one more e-mail instead of allowing ourselves the flexibility we sought when we decided to become our own boss. As a result, all too often, we end up missing our kids' soccer game, going to our sister's for Thanksgiving, dancing at our cousin's wedding.

        Some things never come around again.

        Life is complicated. But it's not as complicated as we make it. Linda cut through that. She wanted something; she went after it. But that doesn't mean she rolled over others in her path. Linda was the first of our generation to die. Was death expected? Can it ever be? Was it expected? Of course. None of us lives forever, so we better learn to do it now.
       Rhonda Abrams is the author of The Successful Business Organizer. To receive Rhonda's free business tips newsletter, register at



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