Last Wednesday, I woke up feeling a bit under the weather. It’s rare that I get sick, so I just felt that it was my turn to catch whatever version of the cold was going around. I participated in a panel for the local PRSA chapter that day and not soon after, I looked at my colleague and said, “Ummm, I’m sick.”
Naturally, what that meant was:
– Let’s go back to the office and take a conference call.
– I can work until 7pm that evening.
– I can certainly take an on-site lunch meeting with a prospective new client on Thursday.
By late afternoon on Thursday, I’d given up. I needed to go see the doctor. I called Kaiser (shut it) to get an appointment and they gave me a 20-minute phone triage and said, yeah – it’s viral, honey. Nothing we can do. Drink fluids and rest. Muttering an inarguable “fuck you” to whomever would listen at that point, I drove my ass to the Walgreens and filled my basket with every possible homeopathic and OTC remedy known to mankind. If you can believe it, I walked out with over $30 in christ-I-hope-this-makes-me-feel-better concoctions and I-can’t-have-the-flu-because-I-got-a-flu-shot thoughts and positioned myself on the sofa.
Where I’ve been for 5 days now.
It got so bad on Saturday that I hauled myself to a doc-in-the-box where I was told, yeah – it’s the flu. BUT WAIT! For your faith in OTC remedies and all the rest you’ve given yourself, we have a special gift for you! An upper respiratory infection, complete with antibiotics that cost (gulp) a tidy sum of $100! (And yes, that WAS the generic version.)
So here I sit – humbled. Run down. I’ve dubbed this illness The Plague. Yesterday, I lost my voice. And truth be told, I feel like three-day-old pad thai that’s been left on the kitchen counter and licked by at least four cats. Today, my voice is coming back — I sound like a cross between Joan Rivers and Stevie Knicks with emphysema thrown in for flavor.
And this whole thing has taught me a little bit about business.
Everyone Knows Best
God bless the interwebz, I say. I’m as plugged in as plugged in can be and once I shared my battle with The Plague with friends and followers, the advice seemed to overpower the notes of sympathy. Not that I was looking for sympathy, but it reminded me that – good heavens – everyone knows best, don’t they? According to the interwebz, I should do everything from gargle with vinegar to steam baths and take Emergen-C. Even after I went to the doctor on Saturday, even a doctor wanted to share his long-distance opinion with me.
Something to remember: People are generally altruistic. They want to help. We all have experiences to share. And y’know, there are the jackwads who just feel like they know best (and there’s no shutting those up). When you decide to head down this entrepreneurial path, you have to prepare yourself for unsolicited input. Everyone – other than you – will know what’s best for you. It’s not unlike unraveling our lives and going back to the days where mom and dad said, “Because I said so!” or “You’ll go blind if you keep touching it!” Later in life, we realize that both are bollocks, and even though I wear glasses, whatever damage I incurred from “touching it” I’m happy to chalk up to genetics (my whole family is myopic to some degree) instead of behavior. You can’t stop the advice for pouring in, and that’s good because…
Great Ideas Can Come From Anywhere
For all the unsolicited advice, there will be a piece or two that catches your eye, ear, and mind. Like the person who recommended pineapple juice for my lost voice. I had to get dressed after 4 days (yes, FOUR days) and go to the bank, and Whole Foods was right across the street. I needed probiotics and, well, I saw a bottle of organic pineapple juice. So I grabbed it. Drank it on the way home. Not only did it taste sublime, especially when you consider that the only thing I’ve been drinking for days is coconut water and TheraFlu, I had a phone call come in and – wouldn’t you know it? I could croak out a “hello.” Maybe it’s timing, but I’m going to chalk it up to pineapple juice.
Something to remember: While all of that unsolicited advice (most notably, the person who recommended that I go for a 40-minute jog to ignite my immune system when it’s nearly impossible for me to even laugh with launching a coughing fit) is rolling in, you just might find some gems. It’s easy to get tunnel vision and think that we’re the only ones with ideas worth acting upon. But in the end, some of the best ideas – even ones that don’t include pineapple juice – come from outside our protective bubble. And that’s okay – the worst thing we do to ourselves as business owners is feel like we have to do everything. Which means…
We Don’t Rest Enough
Christ on an iPad – we sure as hell don’t. Lemme tell you what being relegated to the sofa for 5 days feels like: ass. Pure, unadulterated ass. I haven’t been to the gym. I haven’t left the house except to go to the doctor. I’ve fallen a bit behind on business (since it’s hard to have phone calls when you can’t talk). But you know what? I have rested. My body has crashed for nearly 9 hours straight each night since The Plague set in, and that’s not including the pass-out-on-the-sofa mid-day nap times I’ve had. I’ve watched stupid movies, seen the entire first season of Downton Abbey (OMFGAWESOMEBBQsauce), and even rearranged my office on Saturday afternoon in a fit of decongestant-fueled purpose.
We don’t take care of ourselves. We think that going to the gym and a Naked juice smoothie fixes the fact that we work 16 hours a day, six days a week. I need to unplug more and do things for myself. I need to stop answering business emails at 8pm. I need to take weekends. In short, I need to do a better job at having a life. Just because I can plug into anything via my iPhone doesn’t mean I should and it certainly doesn’t mean I should all the time. Life got along just fine these past 5 days when I needed to take care of myself.
I have a feeling it will continue to do so in the future.
I might have a fever. I’m out of TheraFlu. But I feel decent enough today to spend at least half a day working and the other half taking care of myself. I’m also back to laughing at juvenile jokes that include the word “balls.” I’m grateful for all of the unsolicited advice, as in it I found something that worked. And it’s funny business, these bodies of ours. They’re the best barometer and thermometer we have for gauging what’s real and what’s not.
- Sweating is different than being on fire
- The gut offers brilliant, no-hold-barred unsolicited advice 24/7
- If we don’t learn to take a break every now and then, our bodies will, without fail, make us take one.