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NEW ORLEANS – Another airport, another
rental car and another hotel.  This is my
last business trip of a year that has been filled with some of the most
daunting business challenges I have faced in my 30 years in healthcare. 

 As I drove to the airport in the
predawn hours, I made a wrong turn down a small side street in a not very good
part of downtown.  In the glare of my
headlights, as I made a hasty u-turn, I saw a man sitting on the curb.  He was holding a little girl.  Wrapped in a worn, dirty blanket, they looked
like so many street people you see in Dallas or most other cities in
America.  But this wasn’t just another
homeless man.  There was a little
girl.  That shocked me.

 I must confess, until that moment
on that dingy dark street, my holiday spirits were less than merry this
Christmas season.  The financial squeeze,
brought on by the Great Recession, has affected us all.  For the first time in my life I was actually dreading

 But here I was at 5:30 AM, on the
streets of New Orleans.  And there was a
homeless man and a homeless child.  Suddenly
my concerns, my problems, seemed pretty trivial. 

 I had not slept well.  Weather forecasts of strong thunderstorms
brought warnings of flight delays or cancellations.  Most flights were booked with long wait lists
for standby passengers.  If one of my flights was cancelled, or I missed a connection, getting home would have become an enormous challenge.  I like New Orleans, but this is NOT where I
want to spend Christmas, alone in a hotel.  

Taking counsel of my fears, I tossed and turned most of the night.  I finally gave up on sleep and got up at 4
AM.  This is all to say that if I had not
left for the airport so early, if I had not made that wrong turn, I would not have
seen that man and little girl.  I would
have returned to Dallas, locked in my own world with concerns and challenges that
paled by comparison to a homeless man trying to take care of a little girl on
the mean streets.

 Christmas is a time for family,
for reflection and renewal.  On this Christmas
Eve, I am in Dallas with my wife.  For
the first time in long time, we are not with our extended family.  The weather is cold and it has begun to snow.  I still have the pressing concerns of
business but now I have the image of that little girl and the man, huddled on a
street corner. 

 I am so lucky, so blessed. 

John G. Self is Chairman & Founding Partner of JohnMarch Partners, a Dallas-based internal talent acquisition and management firm.  

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