Periventricular Leukomalacia (PVL) is a form of brain injury most often found in premature or low birth weight babies. It’s often caused by decreased blood or oxygen flow to parts of the brain, or damage to the cells that support neurons throughout the nervous system.

Affected infants generally exhibit motor control problems or other developmental delays. Yet, as the young couple stood before us and explained how relieved they were to finally know why their young son wasn’t developing the way other children do, they had smiles on their faces.

They explained how the doctors told them that, in spite of having PVL, Cy might one day be able to walk and talk like other children and that PVL isn’t congenital. As a result, Cy may someday even have a brother or sister.

As I listened to this courageous mother relate her story, I was reminded of some profound words of wisdom I received from a business consultant when I was a young, frustrated business owner. I must have been complaining about my business. You know, fretting over the usual litany of slow sales, negative cash flow and employee problems.

Probing questions

The consultant with whom I was working, a very wise man, looked me straight in the eye and asked, “Are you in love?” I wasn’t exactly sure where he was going with his question, or even why he asked it, but I answered, “Yes. I’m very much in love with my wife.”

The wise man wasn’t done with his questions. He then asked, “Does she love you?” Once again, not knowing exactly how the answer to his question was going to help my poor cash flow, I told him, “Yes, as far as I know, she loves me, too.”

Next he asked, “Are you healthy?” Although it might be hard to picture my current soft body as a chiseled block of granite, at the time I was still running competitively and was in reasonably good shape, so I answered, “Yes.”

By now it was clear he was setting me up to hit me off the tee. “If you’re loved and you’re healthy, you’ve got it made. Stop worrying about your business; we can fix that.”

Timeless advice

He went on to explain that businesses will come and go, but being loved and in good health are the truly important things in life. When you get those two things right, you can face the challenges of business from a much stronger foundation, and you’re much more likely to address them head on.

To this day those stand as some of the wisest words I’ve received in business and I’ve passed them on generously over the years. They appear to be timeless. While challenges in business will never go away (although they should change), the longing to be loved and to be healthy remains constant.

Is it frustrating when your customers string you out by not paying their bills? Sure. Is it unnerving when a competitor wins one of your best, long term customers?

Absolutely! No doubt there are times you want to scream as you struggle to get your employees to do their jobs, or to even show up for work on time. But there is a cause and a solution to each of these business problems.

In the grand scheme of things these issues, as overwhelming as they may feel at the time, pale in comparison to the loss of love, or to debilitating health. Thirty years ago my business consultant, Bob Jacobson, had it right and it is right to this day: When you’re healthy and in love, business is a piece of cake.

Chuck Violand understands the unique challenges of small businesses, having owned a commercial cleaning and water damage mitigation company for 26 years. He founded Violand Management Associates (VMA) in 1988 as a consulting, teaching and training resource for owners of small businesses. To learn more about VMA’s services and programs, visit or call (330)966-0700.