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When I Start to Get Overwhelmed With Work, I Look at This Postcard of Earth One founder shares what helps her keep things in perspective.

By Kathleen Futrell Edited by Frances Dodds

This story appears in the July 2021 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Courtesy of Kathleen Futrell

Early in my career, I was easily overwhelmed. I over­extended myself, and soon my responsibilities and commitments and ambitions piled up into this mass that felt unfathomably large — until, one day, my manager gave me something that is still on the bulletin board over my desk 26 years later, even as I've now transformed my career: It's a postcard picture of Earth.

Related: My Dad Gave Me a Knife When I Was 11 to Help Him Work. That Knife Opened My World.

I worked in federal contracting at the time, and my manager gave it to me for perspective. He wanted me to look at Earth and think about the significance of what I was trying to accomplish, and the stress I was feeling, and to do so in the context of what others around the world faced. I started to do this during late nights in my office, when I hadn't seen my family in days, as I lived on caffeine and cheese nabs. I imagined the good happening to people around the globe. I also imagined the bad — people starving, enduring war, or losing their homes — and then weighed my situation. I would say a prayer for them, and I would remember that my time on Earth was limited.

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