Business Lessons Learned from My Diabetic Daughter

Yesterday marked six years since my daughter was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes. She was nearly four years old. Also known as Type 1 diabetes, her condition means her pancreas does not make insulin, which is necessary to process food. She will be 10 years old next week and I have learned many lessons that translate to business as well.

Lesson 1: Be prepared for the unimaginable. I will never forget taking my daughter to the emergency room and being told she had diabetes. Businesses should have contingency plans for everything from a flooded office basement to sudden health changes for key employees. Never underestimate the importance of comprehensive risk management.

Lesson 2: Constantly monitor your operations. Kristen checks her blood eight to 12 times a day. To stay in range, she gets insulin, food or water to keep her blood sugar in healthy range. Make it a point to track your customers and their changing needs. Employ social media to stay connected.

Lesson 3: Do not allow setbacks to hold you back. Taking a cue from the quick return-to-work philosophy from workers’ compensation, I asked the preschool to take her back as soon as possible so she could maintain normalcy. The preschool was wonderfully accommodating. She leads as normal a life as possible despite her disability. Whether it is losing a big client, a key employee or any other setback, do not give up. To be successful, ride the waves of change.

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In business, it takes courage to stand out and tell clients bad news they might not want to hear, but true integrity generates courage.
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Lesson 4: Be flexible to keep your priorities. In the early years, when Kristen’s blood sugar was too high or low, I ran to her preschool to get her back in check. Once I getting my hair highlighted with foil wraps and had to quickly get to her preschool. I told the children I was pretending to be a space alien! My dedication to my daughter took higher priority than my vanity or comfort. Your clients deserve the same attention, but family comes first.

Lesson 5: Be brave. Now that Kristen is older, she faces the ignorance that I once was able to shield her from. She has learned to bravely be who she is and not to be defined by her condition. In business, it takes courage to stand out and tell clients bad news they might not want to hear, but true integrity generates courage.

Lesson 6: Make sure you have the tools you need. She never leaves the house without a blood meter and emergency kit. From computer problems to producing for different clients with similar deadlines, business emergencies can happen. Keep on top of the small stuff that is easy to procrastinate – such as maintaining a clutter-free desktop, invoicing or answering emails – so you are always ready.

Lesson 7: Invest in technology. I pushed hard to get Kristen off syringes and unto an insulin pump as soon as possible. Fight the natural inclination to settle into the technology you already know. Invest time to master new technology. Recently, I purchased a Mac. It is taking time to learn how it works differently from my PC, but it is worth it. I am still learning to master WordPress, which supports my blog.

Lesson 8: Keep investing in the future. Kristen risks several health problems later in life, especially if she does not consistently take care of herself. With the worst economic climate since the Great Depression, it is easy to fear that businesses will not enjoy the success of the past. Keep investing in your future career and business. Be clear on your market and their its needs and keep pursuing. You cannot reap without faithfully sowing.

Lesson 9: Maintain your physical and mental health. The relationship between health and productivity is irrefutable. Exercise, be mindful of your diet and re-charge with down time.

Have a great week!

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