As humans we have the ability and power to decide what we consider to be our treasure. According to Mathew 6:21, “wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will be also.” For some people, their treasure might be something materialistic (ex., money, house, car, toy, etc.) and for others it might be something non-materialistic (ex., happiness, creativity, character, relationship, etc.). At different times in our life, we might even consider different things to be our treasure. I know I have certainly considered various things to be my treasure throughout my life and I have taken care of or protected those treasures in a variety of ways.
In order to help you understand where I am going with this, I want you to know a little more about me. I am an introvert. I am shy and don’t easily share my feelings. I am energized by inner resources and internal experiences, typically think before I speak, and set my own direction from my inner compass. As well, I tend to focus on known facts and prefer concrete or factual information over theoretical information. I make decisions based on logic and objective factors. I am extremely analytical and good at analyzing plans. I enjoy being decisive and like to seek closure. I prefer an orderly, planned, and scheduled lifestyle. I can be very focused on solving a problem, accomplishing a task, or achieving a mission. As a result and in regards to my treasure, I am constantly asking myself, “how well am I taking care of or protecting my treasure?”
In many regards, these characteristics or personality traits work well for me. It is easy for me to prove how this is helpful. For instance, in many ways these traits were helpful for me in school and are helpful for me in the work that I do now. I was able to organize my time and study habits to successfully complete a Bachelors of Science in Mathematics, a Masters of Science in Nursing, and a Masters of Business Administration. In my job, I am able to build teams, improve teamwork, plan a budget, coordinate patient care, and so on. As well, these characteristics and traits have proven to be helpful for me when coaching my boys baseball teams or financial planning for my family. I do my best to make these characteristics and traits useful in my life.
In other regards, these characteristics don’t work out as well for me. It makes developing relationships hard. I can become so focused on my internal experience (my inner compass), the known facts, the concrete information, or the objective factors, that the relationships around me go unnoticed. I can become so analytical about the plan that I forget to focus on the people around me. I work hard to solve the problems, but forget to develop the relationship along the way. Believe me when I say that this definitely strain the relationships that I do have.
I will never forget what a good friend and mentor once told me about 10 years ago. He was the man that introduced Mariah (now my wife) and I. We were having a conversation about planning a vacation a few months after Mariah and I got married. We were specifically talking about personal finances and how he manages his income and expenses to afford his vacations. As we talked, he noticed that I was becoming extremely focused on the process and planning and gave me the following advice, “all of that is important, but you need to make sure you enjoy the train ride.” I have never forgotten what he told me, but I continue to struggle to follow his advice.
So, just what is my treasure and am I really polishing my treasure? It can often appear that my treasure lies in the material (money, house, car, etc.), but the truth is that my treasure lies in my wife and our boys. My relationship with them is my treasure. They are my treasure and they are the desire of my heart. The frustrating part is that it is hard for me to focus on the relationship. I always tend to feel that helping solve the problem, accomplish the task, or achieve the mission is the best thing I can do for our relationship. Even though that is what might be said in the moment or as we face the problem, task or mission, I am learning that my help is not what they care about the most. I beleive Maya Angelou explained this better than anyone, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” I may often help solve the problem, accomplish the task, or achieve the mission, but I often fail to make them feel special. I often fail to appreciate them or encourage them. I may not be good at it now, but I will be.
I have to learn how to leverage my strengths for the sake of my family. I am considering if it would be helpful to develop a PDSA (Plan, Do, Study, Act) cycle to help me take care of and protect my treasure. I could use my analytical and focused mind to come up with a test that will help me begin to make them feel encouraged and special. I could carry out the test by remembering to think before I speak so that I can truly begin to polish my treasure. I could use my inner compass to keep asking myself one tough question: Am I really doing a great job of polishing my treasure? I could use logic and objective factors to make modifications to the plan.
You know what, after further thought, maybe I should just keep the PDSA cycle to myself. I should just make sure they know that all I care about is how I make them feel – that I want them to feel cared about, loved, special, protected, and happy (just as they are in this picture that shows their beautiful smiles). After all, that is my primary responsibility as a husband, father, dad, and leader of our family.