Get Your Priorities Straight


priorities-straight“Who’s the f’n new guy?”

Ah, that would be me.

Do you remember Sesame Street?  They had a feature on the show where they would show 3 items/objects.  Two of the objects would be similar or related somehow and one of them would be totally out of place.  For example: a bed, a chaise lounge and a carrot.

The song that went along with it was, “One of these things is not like the others.  Two of these things are kinda the same.  One of these things is not like the others.  Now it’s time to play our game.”

Well at this particular moment I was definitely the one thing that was not like the others…

It was the summer of 1980 and I was working on a special student landscape crew for the North Vancouver School Board.  We were all grade 12 students from schools in North Van.  We were all kinda the same.

However, the regular school board crew, comprised of full time maintenance guys, needed some help on a big job at Argyle School.  So, my boss sent me to work with “the adults”.  Being a fairly sheltered upper middle class kid I had never really met these kind of guys before.

To put it kindly, they were “rough”.  Their favourite word was “f’n” – in all its glory.  Quite frankly, I had never really heard that word much before.  In fact, it was never uttered in our home.  What struck me though, was the ability of these guys to weave a tapestry of profanity on whatever subject they decided to expound upon.

The topics they most enjoyed yattering about were, of course, women and motorcycles.  Again, I’d never really heard women talked about like that before.  This was a vacabulational education I really did not want to receive.  Sadly though, I was sentenced to work with these guys for a week.  I would indeed receive a cross-cultural experience I had never imagined I ever would, nor one I desired.

My memory of the week was spent minding my own business working alongside this group of 3 biker buddies laying sod on a new soccer field.  Pick up a roll of sod, lay it down, roll it out, and kick it into place, over and over and over again.  I tried to be pleasant and engage with them as best I could, but I was pretty shell-shocked by the F Bombs they kept dropping – amongst many other unmentionables.

I’ll never forget one particular relational scenario described in great detail by one of the guys.  He was talking about an argument he had with his “f’n old lady”.  She wasn’t happy with some of his behaviour so he had to set her straight…

“So I says to her, ‘Hey, you f’n don’t get it – first comes my f’n friends, then comes my f’n bike, then comes f’n you.  And if you f’n don’t like it you can f’n leave.’  So she f’n left.”

I almost burst out in guffaws of laughter.  Valuing my life though, I didn’t.  My respect for his “old lady” definitely went up that day.

He had a clear understanding of his priorities, but he didn’t have his priorities straight.

How about you, do you have your priorities straight?

Typically leaders are all about setting priorities, but do we have them straight?  Clearly my former co-worker had priorities, they were simply way out of whack.

Recently at a meeting of a number of CEO Entrepreneurs one of the CEOs was going over his strategic objectives, which were suitably grand and glorious.  We were all duly impressed.  At the conclusion of his presentation one of the other CEOs in the room asked him a simple question,

“What’s your greatest vulnerability?”

We all paused and thought through this together:  access to capital, recruitment, training, team culture, competition, there were so many variables to consider.

“Your marriage.”, was the answer given by the one who asked the question.  We were all hit by the fact that none of us had thought of that, but knew he was right.

Let’s get our priorities straight – based on that which is truly valuable in our lives.

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