Fatherpreneur.com

My journey of balancing small business and small kids


Leave a comment

Cliff Dives and a Sick Kid – Stressful Relaxtion

This post was started a week ago, so take yourself all the way back to last week (cue flash back harp music now)
At this very moment I am at the height of a personal paradox, a stress filled relaxing vacation. I’m sitting in a cabana chair with an amazing ocean view of the Caribbean, a full glass Johnny Walker Black and Coke light (as it’s called in Mexico), and an amazing wife, yet my mind and heart have been preoccupied with the stress of work and a sick child. Through her company, Thirty-One Gifts, my wife worked her tail off and earned a fabulous trip to the Hard Rock Resort at Riviera Maya. It’s absolutely amazing. All inclusive meaning all the food and beverage you can handle. I have brought some oversized and stretchy clothes for the occasion. For the first time since our honeymoon nine years ago we are taking a trip that doesn’t involve kids, family, real estate coaching or a life coaching conference. This is our chance to spend time together and take a relaxing break from both of our lives as parentpreneurs.
Relaxation and I have an odd relationship. I almost feel like it’s a long distance relationship in which we speak often yet spend little time together. In my world as a parentpreneur the ability to disconnect is one that doesn’t come easily. Amazing wifi and international cell phone service and an amazing resort quickly turns in to a real estate office south of the border. The real estate transactions can be dealt with fairly quickly these days. Over the past few years I have been able to grow a small team of very competent and reliable agents whom I’m blessed to be associated with. A few text and e-mails makes short work (a few hours) of the first few days. What I am really paying for is the true lack of preparation for integrating my team into the work prior to leaving versus just leaving notes. Future trips will include taking enough time to stop and perform a thorough briefing. That stress I can deal with.
The one I’m struggling with as is my wife who earned this amazing trip is what’s going on with our oldest daughter. The day before our scheduled flights she complained of tummy pain in the morning. Back in June she faced a bout of pancreatitis that involved 4 days of hospitalization for fasting. I told her teacher about pancreatitis and asked her to be sure to look out for her. At 9:30 I received a call to go pick her up from the school. We were able to get her into the doctor right away who then ordered a blood test. My wife and I swapped places and she took little Ayla to the phlembots at the local children’s hospital. Fortunately our trooper has become accustomed to the blood draws over the past several months. A blood tests is the only way to rule out or rule in pancreatitis. Early that evening the whole family somehow all converged together at our house. Oakley’s mom, my parents, the kids, and I all were there when Oakley came in to tell us that Ayla’s numbers were up and that she had to go to a specialists in the next few days. One problem, we are leaving for Mexico at 6 am the next day. We discussed the situation with all the family as the girls played. Our initial thought was to stay. We couldn’t possibly leave her there with the possibility of a hospital visit. We ran through a myriad of options and came to the decision that the family will help as planned. If the doctors said she needed to go to the hospital we could get back that night. Ultimately we asked Ayla and she said that we should go. I’m really glad she said yes because I’m not sure how this would have played out had she begged us to stay.
Once in Mexico I worked the first few mornings and we worried between Pina coladas and dodging monsoon style weather. The dark clouds that covered the resort represented the dark cloud of worry that were covering my heart. In addition to my wife dealing with this worry, her father is undergoing spinal surgery this week as well. It’s been a mind filled week.
Then one moment at the dinner hosted for all the 600 plus consultants in attendance changed the clouds of worry into sun rays. I have been reading a prayer book and trying to elevate my prayer life and belief. I read how our prayers effect the world well beyond our individual needs.
At the dinner Scott Monroe, husband of the Thirty-One founder, prayed for the meal. During the prayer he seemed to add one line that was just for us like a word of comfort from the Lord. Paraphrased he said “God let everyone here know that you are taking care of all our family and loved ones back home. Help us trust you in caring for them. Help their minds be at ease.” I’m not sure exactly what he said, but that’s what I heard and I began to cry. I wiped my eyes and had a sense of peace.
Today the rain poured down hard and our worry was still there. Ayla had an appointment with the doctor and my father-n-law had his surgery. I remembered what Scott had said the night before and the clouds began to lift. I prayed and asked God to care for them and we will respond how he needs us to. The clouds at the resorts lifted and we are seeing sunshine for the first time all week. I have struggled with worry most of my life. I learned to not let it consume me like I used to. I believe God is continually working on me.
Originally this post was to start concluding here. The next day after writing this my wife we on our way to a jungle excursion which included jumping off of 20 foot cliffs, zip lines, and swimming in caves. On the way there I saw a message from my mother-n-law that said Ayla was on her way the emergency room at the doctor’s request. I had noticed the message as the bus pulled away from the hotel and we lost internet service. Once we arrived at a true Mayan village I was able to begin texting with my dad. Ayla’s blood work confirmed pancreatitis. The day we left we asked Oakley’s mom to put Ayla on strict low-fat diet which is the only way to combat pancreatic attacks without complete fasting. We prayed as we trekked through the jungle. Ayla was in a waiting room at the ER as we jumped off cliffs. We prayed for safety of us and for her. It was complete chaos in our minds as we enjoyed moments and I ran to check my phone every few minutes. They did more blood work on her and a few hours later we received the news that she was being released and going home. The low fat diet had helped her enzyme levels drop enough for the doctors to feel comfortable with her not having to fast. Our trek from the Mayan village to the bus was one of joy and relief. We had to work to completely trust God and our families to take care of her. We had to work to have fun and not let the worry take away an incredible experience that my wife and I will always remember. Fighting the feelings of guilt because of the fun while our daughter was awaiting another test was tough. Feeling helpless as a parent is indescribable. I really feel God was using this experience to show us we can truly trust him. He showed us that our daughter is a strong person and I hoped it showed her the same.
As I finish the post the sky has a dual personality with rain and sunshine. In spite of the rain God is still there shining down on us. I will remain committed to trusting him. When I let the rain of worry shower down on me as it is sure to do I will hold fast in the truth that rain is momentary and that the God who created the sun will shine always.
The hybrid of parent and small business ownership is truly tested on vacations. Maybe this time I wasn’t be great about disconnecting fully, however I am the type of person who likes to learn and I look forward to my next lesson. Thank you Thirty-One for this trip and thank you to my wife for working so hard to earn it and thank you God for taking care of my little girls.
Cue harp music for the return to tonight. It really was a painfully enjoyable experience. My wife and I had the greatest time on the trip and made some great friends. We both learned to trust God more. I know worry may never leave me, but the level of which I let it steal my joy is going to be a lot less.

Advertisements


1 Comment

Be a pro during stressful times

Being a business owner can be extremely stressful at times. Okay, it’s stressful most of the time especially during the start-up, massive growth, transition, downsizing, or Monday through Friday. A small business owner is CEO, CFO, COO and DAD at the same time, which equals to lots of WINE (just occasionally).

Lets throw on top of that being in the real estate business where your clients are generally going through something considered second only to death in terms of stress, moving.  It’s my job and current life’s work to help people get from one place to another.  Handing the keys over to a first time buyer is a great feeling. Handing a check over to a couple who just sold their recently passed dad’s house is heartfelt.  This business is amazing. However it has it’s stresses with odd hours, weekends, late night phone calls. When the world is getting off at 5 pm after a normal business day your second half is often just beginning. Being successful in this business is tough and the rewards are great as well.

One of the most difficult aspects of business is working with your clients and other parties emotions.  People are going to handle stress a different way. It amazes me that I can have two clients going through similar situations in the same week and handle it completely opposite. One will get angry and frantic and the other will take it in stride and roll with it.  I have learned that both clients are right.  They have the right to feel what they feel.

I am a “roll with it” person and early in my career I let the angry folks really get to me.  Rolling with the punches doesn’t make me weak or less of a negotiator in fact composure makes me better. I have a philosophy that life happens and your part of it instead of things happening against you.  When you don’t see obstacles as personal it’s easier to deal with them. The buyer’s bank didn’t deny the loan at the last minute to cause the seller major stress on purpose. Things happen and it’s how we respond that is important.  “Don’t give a circumstance power over you” is something I tell myself often when things are going south with a deal.

My job is to be the calm in the midst of a storm. I can’t let their stress and anger affect my decision making and advice.  You would be amazed the kind of anger people get in a transaction.  I can tell when the agent on the other side is letting their client stress them out.  I have counseled crying agents through tough deals.

It took a long time to learn to stay calm and composed. It allows me to be a better negotiator and a better agent with real advice not emotion filled responses that just fuel the fire.  I once had a client remark that I was almost to calm.  I asked them how their experience would have been if I was upset and frantic when they called. They said, “oh, that makes sense.”  Composure is to be remained when with a client. I go to bat for my clients and make sure the other side is aware of what’s going on.  At home where I feel comfortable to let stress out I can get frustrated.  My wife knows when a client is upset or a deal is going bad. She knows the look in my face when I get the “deals dead” phone call. The “we just lost $8,000 in a few seconds” call. There are very few jobs in the world where you can spend 6 months working on a project and not get paid for it. There are also few jobs where you can meet someone and make $8,000 a few weeks later. I had to learn quickly to find ways to manage such stress at home. Just like my client’s stress isn’t my fault, my family shouldn’t get the blame for my work stress.

I had the pleasure of speaking with one of the tops agents in our city and frankly the state. I asked “how do you handle it all?” His response, “exercise, faith, and stress management. You can’t own their problems.”  That was great confirmation for me.  I had a problem early on of owning people’s problems.  People make choices that get them in situations and then because of the stress of the situation they can find fault with the people they hire to help them. This is true of doctors, lawyers, counselors, almost any business.    Trust me I go way above for my clients and offer great solutions to the problems.  A major life lesson is to always remember that how people respond to you or a situation is out of your control.

Learning to not own the problem has actually made me better at helping solve the problem. That’s what professionals do. Imagine a quarterback getting stressed out and frantic when the defense just gave up a touchdown with two minutes left and is now behind by 6.  We expect a champion to go out focused and composed to lead the charge. That’s what our customers expect from us. If you own their stress you can’t be a pro.  You can understand their stress, empathize, but you can not blame yourself for it.

It’s still a struggle daily. Like any muscle in life the staying calm muscle gets stronger with practice. Find a way to learn how to remain calm. My main weapons for handling stress are words. I have a few phrases that keep me calm. I remind myself the situation will often be over in a few days or weeks. I try to work my client through their stress by asking questions that lead them to find an answer to the real cause of stress.

My other weapons are exercise, prayer and chocolate. yes women, it works for men also.  Chocolate tends to beat out the exercise which is a whole other stress.  Ultimately experience and the ability to gather perspective will be your greatest strengths when dealing with stress. The better you can learn to handle stress the better you will be for your clients. Be a pro.


2 Comments

Slow Down Your Experience

Four years ago last week I became a father for the first time. It’s been an amazing journey that has taught me many lessons. One of which is  to embrace the little things more. In a world that is chasing the next big idea at a rapid pace, the little things are the most amazing things we have. I love the little laughs and the “aha” moments in my daughters eyes as they discover something new.  The “aha” and “awe” moments seem to be less frequent as we age. I am trying to rekindle my “awe” moments.  The world is full of amazing things we take for granted.  The fact that I can be typing in Texas and someone in India and Thailand will read this later still amazes me.

Watching my children grown is one great “awe” moment. Many things get lost in the day-to-day struggle to keep things in order in a fast paced world. I often hear “they grow up so fast.” The truth is they all grow up a the same pace. The speed we experience their growth is up to the parent.  By focusing on the little things each day one can actually slow down the experience they are having.  I know there are times my twenty-minute car ride with my four-year old seems to go by in a flash and other times it’s seems like a whole day. When we are engaged in conversation and talking of thing we see on the road it’s a period of true connection. When two people are connected in a relationship wether it be parent-child, husband-wife, or best friend to best friend the little things create an engaging experience that seems to slow down time.

Each day I try to remember that this day with my kids will be the only one of its kind we will ever have. Even just a simple hug held for a second longer or an extra “I love you” can make the day that much better. The last four years have flown by and also seem to have always been. My existence as a dad may have been short to this point in days, however my experience as a father seems to have outlived my previous 28 years.  Every day we have a chance to experience life to its fullest with the simplest of choices – embrace the little things or chase the big moments. If you catch a big moment you have a few great memories in your life. If you embrace the little ones you have thousands along with the big moments.

Till next time – embrace the little things and the little ones.

Joseph Cortez

I