**UPDATE: Scott's daughter posted to Facebook around 6 p.m. Tuesday that the surgery was complete and Scott was recovering in intensive care. We will continue to update as we hear news about the procedure.
It’s a nice thought, this idea of putting things in perspective. People talk about it all the time, usually while trying to give you some advice. But I recently found out a little trick to really help you put things in perspective. Just have your doctor tell you,
“You have a brain tumor”.
That is what mine told me a few weeks ago and if you happen to be reading this the morning of March 17 (or the early afternoon), I’m actually over at the UNC Medical School having that tumor removed. I’m in very good hands and am certain things will all work out, but I also thought it would be a good time to maybe share some thoughts—just given that very small chance that I might not be able to in the future. Honestly, I simply did not want to regret not saying some things while I had the chance. So, the good folks here at ExitEvent have agreed to publish this little share about my own life and entrepreneurial journey, and maybe it will help others along the way.
Although I now know that my tumor is not in the brain, but just pushing against it, and that the risks right now are more from the side effects of the operation than the tumor itself, it can still all be a somewhat disquieting, and yet introspective, experience. On the other hand, even before knowing all the details and better understanding the risks, it was not something that really bothered me. I can honestly say I was never afraid or even anxious.
The fact is that I have led a very blessed life, very. Loving parents, a wife (of 35 years this May) who is truly my soul mate, three daughters that I completely adore and even a career in which I feel that I left something behind. Each and every one of those gifts, I know were a gift of God and for which, no matter what happens today, or as a result of today, I am just so very blessed, so very thankful.
Yes, there are lots of things I’d like to do, but there is frankly nothing I want for. I never had a bucket list, since it always seemed that was about me. I don’t watch shows that highlight fancy cars or houses, because I am afraid I’ll want those things. And I don’t want to want. Yet there are things I would like to do. To walk my oldest daughter down the aisle this November. To take K4Connect and K4Life to the next level, to truly make people’s lives better (K4, by the way, stands for Katherine, Kelsey, Kristin and Kourtney, my wife and three daughters). To help entrepreneurs in Africa, particularly in Rwanda, by way of First Talent Ventures. And yet, if it is my time, then so be it.
But I did not always think that way…..
For when I was a young man, it was all about being successful, all about being rich, all about me. When I graduated from college, I was out to prove myself, leave behind a legacy—that legacy defined by wealth. You see, when I was younger, my parents fell on hard times. I can remember my parents driving miles just to go to the grocery store, simply so people they knew would not see them using food stamps. My sister and I often had to wait outside while my mom paid, time and again coming out wiping tears from her eyes. I can remember when my dad first lost his job—he pretended to go to work for months, too embarrassed, it turned out, to tell my mom.
Now, make no mistake, I had exceedingly loving parents, they just fell on hard times. But sometimes being a poor kid can leave little scars and I had every intent to wipe those scars away. Riches were my cloth.
And then Katherine’s grandmother, Mary Brugh, died…
and everything changed….
I was in my late 20s and doing well, rising up at the company where I worked, and had even recently been named the co-chair of a Joint Chiefs of Staff study on ramping production capacity in a military crisis—a pretty big deal for a young man. I figured I was on my way. However, just before a big meeting out in California, we found out that Mary Brugh had passed away and the funeral was scheduled at the same time. Katherine told me I didn’t need to attend, but I thought it was important to be there. Mary had been in a nursing home for a number of years and I wanted to be there, not only to support Katherine and the family, but I figured I could help at least fill up a pew or two.
I went to the meeting, but left early and arrived at the hotel, in what seemed to be to be in the middle of nowhere, late the night before the funeral.
The next morning we went to the service. I can remember walking into the room where the family gathers beforehand (this was my first funeral for a family member, so it was all new to me). It surprised me how many people were in that room. It struck a small nerve—for someone who I thought was lonely, who might not have many at her funeral, that room alone could fill half the church. And then we walked into the main church, which seemed to me to be an exceedingly large church for the middle of nowhere—and it was packed. And that struck a very big nerve.
Personally for me, it was a God moment—one of those many times that He speaks, but a rare time that I actually listen. It amazed me that all these people had gone out of their way to pay their respects. It was then that I realized that Mary Brugh, who I thought was this little old lonely lady that somehow I was gracing with my very presence, had in reality touched more people in her life than I ever could no matter how wealthy I became.
Mary was certainly not a wealthy woman and I’m pretty sure you never heard of her, and yet, she made more of a difference in more people’s lives that I ever could, and not by focusing on herself, but on others. And it did not stop there, or even then. For every person who Mary touched in her life had in turn touched others—and continue to do so.
And while she may not have known it, there can be no doubt that Mary touched me.
I knew then that this life had a purpose well beyond simply the accumulation of things or wealth.
I went back to work that next Monday, but for different reasons. And that next weekend, for the first time, I spoke to Katherine about having children, later to be blessed with our three loving daughters (well, if you discount a few of those teenage years!).
So maybe here’s a little secret, this idea of putting things in perspective—
It's all about the why.
I know my personal why—it's grounded in my knowledge that all the blessings I have had in life are only possible through the grace and love of our Lord. Of course, I know I have not always been as thankful as I should have been, or gracious, or thoughtful. And the Lord certainly knows that I have never been patient (as does anyone ever in line in front of me at a Starbucks!). But until that funeral somewhere in the western part of Virginia, I did not realize it was not about me.
OK, so maybe your “why” is different. But for whatever your personal why is, you need to know this:
It’s not about you.
And so what does all this have to do with being an entrepreneur, you might ask? In my thinking, it all starts with the “why.” And if you don’t get that right, at least at some point, I doubt you’ll get the rest right. Of course, one can easily argue that is not true—plenty of folks that really did not care about the why, beyond themselves, have done quite well.
That may be true. But when that doctor tells them they have a brain tumor, I wonder if they feel it was all worth it, I wonder if they really feel they made a true difference in the world. And to me, whenever that end comes, that is far more important.
One more share, that even for the most cynical or selfish of us, just go spend some time in the cancer wing of UNC, or any hospital. There you see these little children running around, their parents seemingly all stressed since their kids are causing such a raucous. If you're a parent you know what I am talking about—you know that feeling. And then you realize that their child is bald, bald from the chemo treatments and that the parents are living a stress that you will never contemplate.
In closing, let me offer this. For me, whatever happens today, I’ve always liked this quote from that great biblical scholar, Dr. Seuss:
Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened.
Thank you Lord.
And now, a couple of PSs…
PS: This whole post might all be embarrassing in a few days, Moody being his typically melodramatic self. Honestly, I hope I am embarrassed. ☺
PSS: Two of my daughters are raising funds for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of western NC, helping children with serious medical conditions, in some of the poorest sections of our State, make a wish come true. If you’d like, you can contribute here. Please note that the girls started this before finding out about my little situation and do not know I am posting this link, but I thought it was a good time to show them support.