Yesterday afternoon someone I love dearly passed away. He was Marion D. Woods to others, but he was Uncle Buzz to me and Buzz Woods to his good friends. He had been fighting cancer but unfortunately his body wasn’t able to fight it any longer and he passed away surrounded by his wife and children. He will be incredibly missed by so many people because he was a loving, kind, generous person who cared about others and who loved to serve.
Uncle Buzz was also a great entrepreneur. He built a very successful mortgage company that he later sold and went on to have several additional successful ventures throughout the remainder of his life, all while battling major health issues.
Today, in honor of my Uncle, I wanted to share the advice that Uncle Buzz said was the most important advice he could give me as I was beginning my own entrepreneurial journey:
I was just starting my very first business when my Uncle Buzz pulled me aside at a family party to share some advice with me that came from his years of experience and life lessons learned as an entrepreneur. He said that in starting a business I needed to set some strict rules for myself on how I would balance my family life from my business. He said that if I would set strict rules from the start about what was going to be sacred family time for me, and then if I would live by those rules 100%, I would find that I would always keep them. He then warned that if I set the rules but then let them slip even once it would lead to letting them slip again and again and again. He said it was important to set the rules upfront because the longer we wait the harder it becomes to set them. Uncle Buzz let me know this was the most important advice he could give me as I began my business.
Because I could feel the importance he placed on this advice, I went home and decided that I would set a couple of rules, but not too many, as I was young and still thought older people didn’t know nearly as much as I did. After all I was 23 and I was going to be the master of work/life balance. I would be the one who could juggle it all. …sigh…the folly of youth…
Rule #1 I set for myself was to never work on Sunday (actually not to work on the weekends in general but especially on Sunday as that is an important family and religious day). And Rule #2 I set was to get home from work to have dinner with my family by 6pm each night.
Rule #1 I kept 100% faithfully. I didn’t work on Sunday period, not ever. In fact I didn’t work weekends at all. Working simply wasn’t an option I would ever even put on the table. And the longer I had lived by that rule the easier and easier it was to continue living by that rule. And I am happy to say that in all these years I have never broken that rule and having that as sacred family time with my children and my husband has blessed my life more than I can express.
Rule #2 I kept for a little bit but then as the company started growing and the demands grew with it I began justifying being five minutes late to dinner which led to being ten minutes late to dinner which led to often times missing dinner all together. Once the rule was broken initially it became easier and easier to justify breaking it again and again. I struggled to keep that rule for all my years as an entrepreneur. And sadly I have major regrets about ever missing a single dinner with my children, let alone missing multiple dinners with them over those years. If only I had followed Buzz’s advice and stuck to Rule #2 the way I did Rule #1 it would have been easy to keep it and I wouldn’t have those regrets.
It was several years into my business before I fully recognized just how important and just how accurate Uncle Buzz’s advice was. But from that point forward I started setting more and more rules for my life and I was thankfully smart enough to have learned that I’d need to stick to each rule 100% to stick to it at all.
I also came to recognize that Uncle Buzz’s advice applies to everything we value in life: Set the standards we want to uphold in life, create rules for ourselves that ensure we keep those standards, and then stick to those rules 100% of the time…no justifying a slip up here or there, no rationalizing “just this once”…stick to it 100% and you will find you aren’t even tempted to break it. That is the key to living a life you can feel proud of; a blessed life without regrets.
I am confident Uncle Buzz was able to pass on from this life into the next with the peace of knowing he lived a blessed life without regrets. I am grateful to have had Marion D. “Buzz” Woods as my Uncle in this life and I am grateful that he will continue to be my Uncle for all eternity. #familiesareforever
~Amy Rees Anderson