To all of my driven, hard headed, never-surrender fellow supermen and superwomen out there, I commend you for doing your jobs even when you’re sick. But you may be due for a healthy reminder. Sometimes not feeling well is a true sign that you need to slow down, not press through. Please allow me to explain.
When I was growing up, my parents really valued hard work. I saw both of them regularly go to work even on days when they weren’t feeling 100%.
When it would be time for me to go to school, if I wasn’t feeling well, Dad would ask “Have you gotten sick yet?” If my answer was no, he’d tell me to try and tough it out for the day. If my answer was yes, he’d say with a smile “Well, don’t you feel better now?” So needless to say as an adult, I’m just like them when it comes to working through an illness.
Once upon a time I was the man in charge of disciplining the entire school. From tardies, to insubordination, to fights and drug use…I handled it all. In three years time, I was able to take the amount of annual discipline referrals from 1,200 to around 800.
When it came to student discipline, the buck stopped with me…Or at least it did when I was at school. I’m the type that never misses work. But once there was a full month that I was absent after catching mononucleosis. That sickness was able to catch my attention in the way nothing else could have.
I learned some valuable lessons during this time. Things like:
- Gatorade as a diet is no way to live.
- Single parents have it hard. I literally slept for 18 hours a day while Marilyn took care of everything. It started to wear on her by the end of a month.
- Dehydration can make your body and mind do some crazy things. I had to make two visits to the hospital because of it.
But the real lessons I learned were:
1. No matter how important I think I am, the world will continue without me. It’s true. There are very few things that you do at work that someone else either couldn’t do or that others couldn’t work around for short periods of time.
2. If I don’t take care of myself, no one else will. So be sure to get enough sleep, eat healthy, exercise, etc. It’s not selfish. Consider it as refilling yourself so you have the ability to pour into others.
3. Sleep is God’s reward for a hard day’s work. Often times the best thing you can do when you’re sick is to sleep. God designed your body to repair itself, to make new neurological connections, and to fight off disease all during your sleep. If you’ve been working extra hard, heed your body’s cravings for sleep before it forces you to that point.
4. “Emergencies” are often relative. Just because an issue is urgent to one person doesn’t mean it has to become an emergency for you. Certain things can, and will often have to wait when you’re not feeling well.
5. When you’re obviously not feeling well, save the big decisions for another time. Your perception will be distorted and emotions will run high when you’re ill. If any work has to be done, do the things that are most necessary and save the major decisions for another day.
True confession…I’m actually writing this post with kleenexes, cough drops, and cold medicine by my bed. It’s 4:30am and I’ll be getting dressed soon to drag myself into work because my perception is that I’ve got things that have to be done today. Some habits die hard.
If you’re in this position, you can still take these steps as a plan of survival. But be sure at some point, if you’re not getting better, to raise that flag of surrender and let your body catch up.
QUESTION: What do you think are the reasons you don’t take off work when you’re sick? If you could give others like yourself advice, what would it be?
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