After a Toastmasters meeting last summer, I was talking to my friend, who many years ago had volunteered as “Big Brother” to a boy in need of guidance and a steady influence in his life. That young man is now an adult who unfortunately has had serious run-ins with the law.
My friend told me his “Little” had a looming court date that could send him back in jail. The reason? “Little” had violated probation by not informing the court of an address change. As we stood in the parking lot, we bemoaned the shortsightedness of “Little” not taking care of something so simple—sending a letter—when the consequences of not doing so were so dire.
Later that day, I met my doctor for my semi-annual checkup. He weighed me, measured my blood pressure, listened to my heart, and then reviewed my recent lab results. The news was sobering. My weight was up. So was my cholesterol, blood pressure, glucose, and A1C levels. In short, I was on the verge of becoming a diabetic and if I wanted to avoid that fate, I needed to change my diet and begin exercising.
(Some of you are way ahead of me.)
Did I listen? Well, sure, of course. This was important and potentially life-changing.
Fast forward six months. Same doctor, same scale, same exams, different result—everything was worse! Not only had I not reversed course, I had doubled down on my bad habits and was closer than ever to a health disaster. Had I acted on the warning? Well, of course not. Changing bad habits is hard, especially if one has a ready supply of the usual excuses.
This time, the lesson of my friend and his “Little” would not be lost on me. It was time to take care of the simple, straightforward steps required to return to good health and avoid a bad end. There was little margin for error and my “judge” wouldn’t merely send me to jail for my mistake. Time will tell if I’ve acted soon enough to forestall any long-term problems, but I’ve changed my habits and have begun to see positive, tangible results.
Hopefully this little cautionary tale resonates with you at some level. We all have areas in our lives that require us to pay close attention to warning signs, whether it’s health, dreams, money, careers, or relationships.
I am hopeful that I’ve acted in time and hope you will too.