Business is hard. There are good days and bad. Some days just seem insurmountable. I have certainly had my share of good days and I am appreciative when they happen. But as an entrepreneur I have also been challenged with horrible days. There are times when I struggled through employee issues, cash flow problems, lawsuits, bankruptcy, and confidence crises. And yet somehow I have always managed to pull through.
There are many ways I have learned over the years to manage the stress of difficult days. But there is one method that I have successfully used since 1999 to center myself in immediate times of trouble. I learned it in a program called Birthing of Giants provided by Inc., MIT, and the Entrepreneurs' Organization.
60 of my fellow entrepreneurs and I heard many speakers during this program and one of them was a Horatio Alger award-winner named Tom Harken. Harken was from Beaumont, Texas and built a chain of successful restaurants in the south called Casa Ole. He was a happy and boisterous man everyone called Poppee and he gave all of us a little laminated wallet card with a short prayer to pull out in times of need.
Harken passed away, sadly, in 2013 at the age of 75, but I have kept that card in my wallet and used it a lot. Now it's a great way of honoring this man who taught me something very simple and very special.
On one side of the card are Tom Harken's own words about this one-minute stress reliever:
Let me tell you the story about God's Minute. Once, years ago, before Poppee, before Casa Ole, before Miss Melba, I was in quicksand. This man, my friend and mentor named Casey, said, "Tom, I have something in my pocket that I've carried for years, and I'd like you to have it now because it will get you through some bad times." Casey was a very wise man. He handed me the little frayed card and told me to read it, not knowing I couldn't read. I glanced up at him and said, "Casey, it would mean more if you read it to me." He did, and that was over 30 years ago. I wish I could give credit where it is due, but I don't think anyone knows who wrote it. Since then, this little verse has helped me many times. I hope it will help you in the same way.
- Tom Harken
Here is the other side of the card.
I have only just a minute,
Only sixty seconds in it,
Forced upon me - can't refuse it,
Didn't seek it, didn't choose it -
But it's up to me to use it,
I must suffer if I lose it,
Give account if I abuse it,
Just a tiny little minute....
But eternity is in it.
Reading this card has brought me much needed sanity many times over the last 16 years. You may want to print out the two sides and stick it in your own wallet just for the right time. I hope it helps you too.