My partner is a god-sent, straight from heaven. He and I complement each other in the simplest, yet genius ways, both personally and professionally. He knows how to speak to me in a way that inspires me to take decisive action. Similarly, I never have to worry about sharing my opinion on his closely guarded talents, intelligence or abilities in fear that I might injure a frail ego. In the same way, he knows I don’t expect him to rescue me from tricky spots and endanger my equally sheltered self-reliance but rather that I value the time, attention and advices he always dispenses ever so generously with me, especially in times of dire need. We are of value to one another for things that matter tremendously and those that are seemingly trivial. In this way, our professional lives never hamper the other, more fun stuff going on between us.
What happens when business begins to suck the pleasure out of relationships with loved ones? What if successes leave your significant other feeling not so significant, your children feeling like you have time for the entire world minus them and your parents regretting the day the spent their first dime on your education? What if the growth of your business is causing you to neglect some of your responsibilities or even rituals of home life? Do you choose one, walk away, carry on as best as you can with the hopes it will get better some day?
Leo Tolstoy had a supportive wife who, as I suspect, may have become a famous literary person herself had she been a man in her era. Even still, she caused her husband great distress for the bulk of their married life with temperamental demands of his time, attention, perhaps even affections. Ultimately, while she could be credited for his work being continually brought to the forefront, she could also regrettably easily confess that she had had an unhappy married life. He on the other hand became a success, in fact an icon whose talents and literary prowess remain unmatched even to this day.
What we are saying is that we are grateful that Leo Tolstoy dedicated his entire being to his writing talent because, for starters, he wrote the magnificent War and Peace (need I say more?), etcetera. We are just not certain we would advocate his methodology and apply that same damning passion to our work at the expense of those closest to us. In other words, when, after the lines have been blurred and our work has become who we are and vice versa, our loved ones should still be around to remind us that we are accepted and appreciated with our without the important job or fancy title. How do we inspire this kind of devotion, especially when faced with the realization that business is beginning to threaten the peace of our family life?
Share your vision with your family
Many business executives and well versed entrepreneurs who are quite capable of standing before a board of directors and sharing a vision for their business fail to extend the same courtesy to their most precious stakeholders- their family. When your family understands the what, where, why, when and how of your work they are transformed from participants who get to spend your money at the end of the sale to supporters with a vested interest in your success.
Day dream out loud to your sweetheart
It’s so quaint and easy to speak about our dreams and aspirations with the person we are in love with early on in the relationship or before the millions and the work pile up. Once we are knee deep in the task of “making it happen”, we tend to forget to touch base, review and share every little new dream or idea that comes up next, adding to the bigger picture with the people who were there at the very beginning. Remember, you used to share those dreams with that special someone because they were your muse and therefore a trusted sound board and confidant. Chances are if you are honest with yourself, they are still as precious to you and your relationship may benefit from you treating them with the same childlike trust.
Though they love you, they don’t care about absolutely everything.
Adults have a tendency of oversharing the details of the challenges they face.. Exhibit A: “If mommy doesn’t get this report finished tonight we are not going to land the client, which will land us in a tight corner this fiscal and put mommy in a position to defend her bonus and maybe even loose me my job!” Phew, what a mouthful! The irony is that what a child will get out of the entire rant is “Mommy, loose, job” and an understanding that they are A) in the way and B) not as important as…well, all of what you just ranted.
Your loved ones do not need to know they are secondary to the work, especially because they aren’t really secondary to the work. They do however want to hear how you feel, if they can help you feel better and that they are still valued on your team. Try this: “My love, I feel bad that I can’t make dinner tonight or spend more time with you and the children. It helps to know you are going to read them a bedtime story tonight. I am so grateful to have such a strong and supportive partner by my side.”
Cut the crap- go home.
Sometimes we overdo the “business time” thing. To the meeting-preneur who is at the office till 15h30, at the closest upmarket restaurant by happy hour, at the golf course every weekend and on conference every school holidays, we only have this to say: cut the crap, go home! Go bake cookies, garden, play front yard soccer or picnic with your family and validate their precious existence in your very busy life. There will never be a good time to “make it up to them” as long as you are driven to succeed, therefore make time and make it count big time.
It may not be as sexy as money but nothing compares to love.
There is a lot of glamour in being admired for a skill or talent, looked up to because of a position you hold or the money you make in business or respected for your knowledge, experience or powerful connections. Sometimes, the thought of walking away from this world, even momentarily, and into one of diapers, dirty dishes and conversations that begin with: “does this make me look fat,” can cause any completely sane person to manufacture an “unavoidable” business engagement.
Here is the deal: comparing the two very important aspects of your life will not get you anywhere. You need your work to define your unique place in the world and to express yourself. You need the love and unconditional acceptance of your family and friends to continue to be brilliant, inspired and full of purpose. Take care not to mess the one up for the other by entertaining some fantasy that your work and home life will somehow fulfill the same purpose in your life because they never will.
At the end, all we have is the little time we are allowed to live our lives and the wisdom to use that time. Being in business is a unique and precious opportunity to leave a piece of ourselves in the world. Even still, being loved and accepted for who you are, even if you were stripped off your title, trade, esteem or possessions, is still far, far more important. In fact I may even go as far as suggest that it pays to know to protect this foremost.
Tags: 'time management" family prioritizing "family time" relationships