When I was a kid growing up, I knew a man who loomed bigger than life to me. His name was Edwin E. Bailey, and he ran the astronomical observatory at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. I would go to the Franklin Institute most Saturdays just to spend time with him. His encyclopaedic mind fascinated me. He seemed to know something about everything.
I was a friend with Ed Bailey right up until he died several years ago. When he was in the hospital, after a serious stroke, I went to visit him. In an effort to make small talk, I told about all the places I had been to speak and how I had come to his bedside straight from the airport.
He heard me out and then said with a slightly sarcastic manner, "You go all over the world to people who, ten years from now, won't remember your name. But you haven't left time for the people who really care about you."
That simple sentence hit me hard and changed my life. I have decided not to let my time be used up by people to whom I make no difference, while I neglect those for whom I am irreplaceable.
A friend of mine recently got a call from the White House asking him to consult with the President of the United States. He said no because it was to be on a day he had promised to spend with his granddaughter at the seashore. The nation survived without him, the President didn't miss him, and his granddaughter had some precious time with her "Pop-Pop."
First things ought to be put first.