Masthead header

Priorities: Making Sure You Know What Matters

“I used to race stock cars.” He said.
My grandfather, 72, told me a story last night of the fateful night that ended his stock car racing career forever.

It was just another race. Racing was his passion. He built his own engines and fixed his own mistakes. His blood and his soul ran with the purr of the engine and his heart beat for the thrill of the race. But everything was about to change.

On the night of what would be his final race, his wife was in attendance, with their son on her hip. In his own words:

“I was near the final lap. Just around the curve was a Buick that was on my tail. You could tell the difference in the Buick engine more than anything else. You could hear it. He was eatin’ me up!”

Just as they rounded the corner, right in front of the flagman’s stand, his back wheel came loose and flew off. It flipped him around and the Buick that was on his tail ran over his car taking the top of the car with it… along with his helmet.

My grandmother, clutching their young son, looked on in terror as the helmet flew from the car. In a panic that caused her to drop him, she ran toward the track.  As she approached, the smoke lifted, the cars settled, and my grandfather, miraculously unscathed, stood up from the wreckage.

“I sold it that night. I’ve run a many of race. But the if good lord brought me through that? I’m done.”

What my grandfather didn’t say but that I believe to be true is: He realized his life wasn’t about him anymore. It was about his family. He put the value of them over one of his greatest passions. He did get to stay in the game for a while after that by building engines for several different racers and car owners. He also continued to enjoy the races…. safely from the stands.

Our priorities define us. By choosing to do one thing, it means that we are choosing not to do somethings else. That can be a good thing or a bad thing. Or it could be that both things are good, but we choose to do one over the other. I may mean to read everyday but if I don’t make it a priority, it never happens. Nobody will come in to my house at 6 am and make me read instead of watching reruns of Boy Meets World. Both good things but it’s about which is going to give me the highest return.

When you make something a priority, you make it happen because priorities keep you focused on what’s important. In order to make stuff that matters, you have to know what matters.

John Maxwell talks about the importance of priorities in his book Today Matters.

“Nothing has added more to my success than the principle of priorities.”

He advises to ask these three questions when thinking on priorities,

1.) What is required of me?

2.) What gives the greatest return?

3.) What gives me the greatest reward?


So do what is required of you (Be very mindful and considerate with this one because this is what matters the most), then do what gives you more in return, and then do what rewards you back.

It’s important I think to understand the difference between return and reward.

Return- as in return on INVESTMENT. You get back what you put in.

Reward- as in it gives you personal satisfaction. You are fulfilled and content. You love what you’re doing.

Think of my grandfather’s example. His priorities post incident might look like this:

Family and Responsibility (What is required of me?)

Working to provide. (What gives me return?)

Building engines and attended races (What gives me reward?)

The success of your day depends on your priorities. Make sure everything falling into the right space.

Happy Monday!


Write down lists under each category today:

Required (what you must do today)

High return

High reward

Use these questions to guide your prioritization and see how it affects your work and contentment. 


Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *