Putting business stress into proper perspective

20 October 2014
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MANILA, Philippines – The words “business” and “stress” go hand-in-hand for most of us. It’s an endless list of worries. “Will I make the annual target?” or “Will the new competitive launch put me out of business?” are just a meager few of the stresses that can get to us.

Unless we are willing to forego a life in business, the stress is not going to go away. There will always be something because that is the nature of business. So our sole solution is to manage the stress, and that means keeping things in their proper perspective.

I have spent nearly 30 years selling soap, diapers, razors, tampons, tobacco, shampoo, soft drinks — all coming from blue-chip multinationals, but in the grand scheme of things, not really that important.  I mean, if a consumer shifts from buying Coke to buying Pepsi, will the sun fail to rise tomorrow morning? We can somehow worry ourselves to the point we think the end of the world is coming simply because we did not achieve the market share we targeted, or we did poorly in a management presentation.

It’s not the end of the world. If you want to worry about something, well, then, worry yourself sick about something that really matters.

We love our children. We would do anything for our kids. We would die for our kids. If one of my kids needed a liver transplant, and they needed mine, I would give it up. On the spot. No debate and no discussion. My kids come before myself.

So imagine you don’t have a child, or two children or even five. Imagine you have 151 children. Imagine they are 151 special-needs children — handicapped or abused children. Imagine now for a moment you are living day-to-day and every day you have to worry if you can feed your children.

Now, that is something that merits worrying about. Not the petty issues we all deal with in business.

There are times in your life when you meet people who just take your breath away. Not for their grand achievements but simply for being extraordinary human beings. I just had one of these moments a few weeks ago in Bacolod.

Ask anyone in Bacolod about Calvary Kids or Joe and Billie Rosmarino, and you’ll get a smile and a nod. Everybody knows them. How can you not know about a couple that takes in every single child, no matter the disability, care for them as their own, and have been doing this for over 25 years now as a life calling?

I met Matty, one of their 151 children. See, the Rosmarinos nearly take offense to calling the children they care for “orphans,” because they will take in any child — disabled, abused, you name it — and call them their own.

Matty was born with no hands, no feet, and no tongue. He was given a small chance to live. His birth mother left him in the hospital and fled. The hospital knew whom to call, the only people who would help: the Rosmarinos. They, of course, fell in love with Matty and took care of him. Today he is a dynamic, lovable, playful and happy nine-year-old. He is smart. He runs like the wind despite having no feet. He is just a delightful boy who melts your heart.

I met a young lady who was brutally molested so many times by family that the doctors reported it was the worst case they had ever seen. But in Calvary she is loved. She says she loves her birth family but she just can’t live with them. She has love and Christ in her heart. She says she forgives them all and has put it all in the past. She smiles a smile so warm it could heat a home in the Arctic.

Like anyone, I can tell whether a smile is faked or real. I sit and watch this collection of 151 children sing — each with a personal story of trials and tribulations no child should have to endure — and they sing with joy from the bottom of their hearts. Children, who have every reason to be sad or to become dysfunctional, are wonderfully adapted and full of joy in life. They say miracles don’t happen anymore. Well, I witnessed a miracle in Bacolod. What these people have done is pure miracle.

Now Calvary has one problem, and it is not a small one. They live off a shoestring budget. In fact, I cannot figure out how they can feed 151 children three times per day on their budget. Even with growing their own vegetables and milking their own cows, how they can feed all these kids on a budget of less than P40/kid/day is amazing. And what about paying for electricity? Schoolbooks? The paid staff? I have run many businesses but this must be the most efficient operation I have ever been exposed to.

The vast majority of funding has come from donations from a church located in the USA. You see, this church just advised them last month that they would have to halt any further support due to budget issues and the economic situation in the US. So suddenly, Calvary is going from a shoestring budget to living literally hand-to-mouth. Now, this is a real problem, and put the petty issues I sit and worry about in perspective.  How can I sit here and stress so much about a market-share figure when these amazing people wake up each day, perform miracles yet have to worry about feeding their 151 children?

Let’s keep things in perspective, folks. We have our health. We are not severely handicapped. Abandoned by our families. We are not abused and scarred by a horrid past. We are already blessed simply by being in the situation we are in. We don’t have to worry about feeding 151 kids each day and wondering where the next bit of help will come from. All of us running businesses — we are blessed.

The Philippines is a wonderful and amazing country, and incredibly warm and giving. As such, I am going to do something I have never done before. I am going to appeal to my readers for help. Let’s all pitch in and help Calvary Kids, and give them a Christmas they will never forget.  Here is their bank account information:

Bank name:  Philippine National Bank (PNB)

Branch: Bacolod Branch RBU

Account Name:  Calvary Kids, Inc.

Peso account number:  2803-7130-0012

Dollar account number:  3031-1700-0010

Please wire them some money today. The author will personally match every single reader donation (up to a limit, of course, so I don’t end up worrying about my next meal!).

The Rosmarinos are the best of humanity. They are changing the world. Let’s all help make their world a bit better. Thank you all for your support. And thank you to Joe and Billie for giving me a good dose of perspective.  I certainly needed it.

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