Are you one of those people who tries to be as productive as possible with every waking hour of your time?

I am.

When you're ignoring life's whispers, beware. Those whispers can get pretty loud. When they do, you'll be forced to listen in one way or another.

Recently, this happened to me, and I wanted to write about it and share the lesson with you.

About a month ago, I was riding along on my road bike cruising at about 15 mph. I was on the popular White Rock Bike Trail in Dallas, Texas on a Sunday. I had made the decision to cram in a quick ride before settling into a mound of work that I needed to get done on a day that I should have been resting. Normally, I don't ride on the actual trail because it is usually very crowded. Typically I throw my bike on the back of my car and go out to the lake area where there is much more room to ride.

In order to make the most of my bike ride that day, I was plugged into a business podcast and listening intently. I love to listen to business, leadership, and marketing podcasts when I exercise, and I probably always will.

stop and smell the roses

My bicycle, in one piece.

Unfortunately, though, I was so tuned into the podcast that when a cyclist coming from the opposite direction briefly veered over on to my side of the trail, I immediately had to snap out of my listening mode and hold on for what was about to be a disaster.

I hit a huge divot on the trail (which I normally could have avoided) and went airborne from there…into oncoming bicycle traffic. I was traveling at about 15 mph at the time of the accident, and my feet were clipped into the bike pedals, so the bike stayed with me.

As my life flashed before my eyes in the face of speeding cyclists heading straight toward me I screamed louder than I've ever screamed in my life (not like a girly girl scream, like an “I'm gonna die” scream)! I let go of my handle bars to protect my head and face, and ultimately landed on my hands. The oncoming cyclists were miraculously able to avoid me. It was a very close call and I was lucky.

After spending the rest of the day in the ER, I was left with an open break of my right pinky finger, a badly sprained left wrist (which still hurts worse than the finger), and some nice road rash on my legs. Oh, and my iPod Nano was shattered as it was on my injured wrist. I was extremely fortunate that the injuries were not any worse than they were.

The irony of the accident and resulting injuries was that my business depends on the use of my hands. Like many digital entrepreneurs, I'm on my MacBook Pro and smart devices constantly. Whether I'm writing, working with software tools, taking care of client tasks, producing podcasts, or expanding my knowledge, I am using my hands! In fact, the day following the accident I had to deliver a huge online webinar that I had committed to on behalf of a corporate client.

Since then, I've healed up just fine, and subsequently have learned how to type without one pinky finger. You would be surprised at all the things you use your pinky finger for. Opening a pickle jar, brushing your teeth, and swinging a golf club to name a few. But given that the accident could have been so much worse, I have definitely counted my blessings.

When you find yourself without a moment of time to be still and calm, or when you find yourself consumed in your work to the extent that everything else sits on the back burner, it's time to take a break. Don't ignore the signs to slow down, and stop to smell the roses.

I have no doubt on that day of my bike accident I was mentally exhausted. I had been ignoring the signs of needing to rest and restore my balance and energy for a long time.

Listen for the signals and signs…the whispers. Don't be afraid to give yourself some well-deserved time off and valuable time with family and friends. Don't be all about work. It's easy for me to say and much harder to do, but this is the lesson I have learned the hard way.

What about you? Have you ever had life just slap you in the face in order to wake you up? Are you stopping to smell the roses? Share your experiences with me here!