H is for hernia, hold up and humility

When it comes to medical concerns, no one likes to hear the H word. Generally that’s heart attack, heart disease or heart-valve bypass. For me, H stands for hernia. Okay, not exactly life-threatening, but nonetheless uncomfortable, limiting and a royal pain in the…groin.


Hold up, boys. We have a hernia to repair.

As I’ve dealt with the inconvenience of having a hernia and now the operation to correct it, I can see that at least one good has come of it. If anything, it has forced me to slow down, to “hold up” as they say in Westerns. In just about every cowboy movie, some trail boss will tell the other riders to “hold up.” They’ll stop and examine some artifact along the trail—a broken branch, hoof prints or a smoldering fire—and conclude that the bad guys are nearby. It’s a break in the action, a pause for reflection before some new event transpires. Invariably, it portends change, a rethinking of the current plan of action.

Lying in bed, propped up on pillows, it’s hard not to view my hernia as an obstacle to working on all of the things I need to be doing in my life right now. As I’ve discovered over the last few weeks, thinking about and starting a new venture is a lot of work. There are so many things you need, or think you need, to do. But the hernia has forced me to hold up and take a longer view of my future. Maybe I don’t need to do every single thing I’ve sketched out for myself. Maybe, already, I’ve gotten off track and need to refocus my energy. Or, at the very least, make sure I’m doing those things that I thought were important to do when I embarked on this journey.

No one's perfectVoltaire is credited with saying “perfection is the enemy of the good.” I certainly have been guilty of seeking perfection at the expense of what is good in my life. But just as not everything can be perfect with our health, not everything can be perfect in our professional and personal lives. The sooner we learn that not all that we want to accomplish can happen right away or exactly the way we planned, the sooner we will be at peace with ourselves. And, surprise, surprise, the sooner we will actually accomplish what it is that we have set out to achieve.

Humility is an essential virtue and one that a hernia is custom-made to teach. In the beginning, a hernia is a constant and nagging reminder that there are limits to what you can do. Then, after the operation, comes the recovery phase where you really are powerless and depend on others to take care of you. For independent-minded people like me, that’s a difficult pill to swallow.

It is particularly important to reach out to others when you are contemplating a new career or beginning a new business. It’s okay to ask for advice and help, and most people are genuinely willing to give it. Whatever obstacles you have in your life—physical, emotional or financial—try to see the good that may come from them. It’s not easy, but it may be just the “hold up” you need to put you back in the saddle again.

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