Decision Time!

05.15.12 | Posted in UnCommon Leadership

For some of us, it takes a hard whack on the head to make us realize the changes we should make in our life. Sometimes we delay making those changes and we have all kind of reasons (excuses) why we keep doing what we’re doing.

This is a real-life, true story that I hope will inspire you to make the changes you know you should make. 1985 was a transformational year for me, and my family. During that year, in the span of about six months, there were three people in my life that passed away. Each is unique, and provides a critical message for each of us about making decisions.

In the spring of 1985, our 5 month-old nephew passed away from a heart defect. When he was born, the doctors had detected the problem, but there was optimism about a path of healing for him. However, something went terribly wrong that the doctors didn’t predict and he could not be saved. That event, still to this day, is one of the toughest we have ever gone through. It was horrific to watch people close to us in so much pain, and feel our own pain at such a tragic loss.

In the summer of 1985, one of my best friends, going back to my childhood died. Richard had abused drugs and alcohol most of his life starting at a very early age. He was the son of a family friend of my parents and my father had been the one man in his life that could deal with him. There were many times growing up that my Dad would get a call from Atlanta and get in his car and drive from Charleston to deal with situations that Richard had gotten himself into. Richard was 36 when he died.

In the fall of 1985, my former boss dropped dead of a massive heart attack at his hunting camp during his annual hunting trip with his close friends. He was 56 years of age.

While dealing with my own issues, these events helped me become aware of many critical life lessons. One of the major lessons it taught me was about making decisions to make changes and making them now! You see, my nephew had a health issue that wasn’t his fault. He didn’t decide to do anything that would harm his life. He was born with the issue and there we no decisions for him to make.

My friend Richard had been counseled all of his life to try and stop abusing drugs and alcohol. When he finally made the decision to quit and seek help it was too late. The doctor told my father his internal organs were damaged beyond repair.

My former boss had been given stern warnings many times by his doctor to lose weight and change his life style. It was too sedentary and his diet was terrible.

My nephew didn’t have any choices to make. My close friend made the right decision, but he made it too late. And, my former boss didn’t make the decisions at all.  All lost their life, but for different reasons; two of them by not making critical decisions at the right time.

What decisions do you need to make today that will have a big impact on you, your life, your family, your mission and your destiny?


It’s interesting that I would pen this blog when I did. Normally, when I write a blog I’ll let it gestate over a period of a few days to over a week making changes and edits. That’s what I had been doing with this one. Then I got a phone call Sunday night that really made my head spin and Tuesday I attended a funeral.

In 2004, when I became the President of the UC eXpress division of TALX Corporation, our team identified a major growth area: state and local tax consulting for corporations. We aggressively pursued one of the top tax experts in the industry from KPMG. He joined our team in 2006, and as we predicted, he was a major asset to our division and to our growth. He was brilliant, and very personable. He could navigate at any level inside of a corporation and once he had the decision maker’s attention we had their business. He was that good. He was also a tireless worker to a fault. He traveled and worked beyond anything we ever asked of him. He was driven to be the best that he could be and to take our tax services to the highest possible level. I worried about him and his health and would lecture him from time to time about the long hours he worked and traveled. I left TALX in 2008, but we continued to communicate and stay in touch.

Sunday night I found out Robert Lawter passed away from a massive heart attack that morning. He was 52 years old. I am deeply saddened by this loss, especially for his wife and his children. I considered Robert a friend. There was mutual respect and admiration. We both shared a vision of possibilities and what could be in our business life.

At the funeral, the Pastor, his best friend and even his 8 year-old daughter, all shared what an incredible person, husband and father he was.


So, it is Decision Time for us. Life is short no matter when you pass. Focus on the important things in your life like family, faith and enjoying the many blessings we all have. Be with the people you love when you’re with them. Turn off business and tune in to what is important. And, if there is someone in your life that is very important to you and you haven’t told them just how much they mean to you, then do it now. You may need to pick up the phone and tell someone you love you them…!

May God be with his family and may they find grace and peace during this critical time in their life. Rest in peace, John Robert Lawter, Jr.

Onward & Upward!

Ed Chaffin

Tagged , , , , ,

One Response to “Decision Time!”

  1. Rick Walker says:

    Ed – Thank you for reminding us of the most important things in life. Your wise counsel is always appreciated — Rick

Leave a Reply