Knowing today what I do with respect to my career, wow is their so many changes I would have made well before now. This article I hope speaks to young men and women early on in their careers. Working twelve, fourteen or longer hour days. Work, work, work, work, work!
Jerk bosses will tell you to put in the hours to get ahead, while their ass is at home with family. Or out having a life. Sure, does have to be paid but don’t get lost in a Myer of work = money = life. What good is money if you don’t have a life? The million-dollar question: Life-Work – Balance.
Background for me early on. Working in automotive retail eight AM to nine + PM six days per week. Don’t even think about a day off or vacation. My sons first basketball game I was literally thrown a box on my desk told to pack my shit and go to the game. Or get my ass back to work! What do you do? Retail is a brutal industry, that is very unforgiving.
The incident I had with a boss with my sons first game was just the tip of the iceberg throughout my automotive career that has spanned thirty-five years. I lost a lot of firsts, family milestones, a life, and burned through a couple of marriages quickly. Damaged my relationship with my kids and the list goes on.
It was only too easy to fall into the trap of work, work, work. My argument with my family is “if I don’t work you don’t have a life.” Looking back at how shortsighted that statement really is. What a stupid move. Sure, every man does what he has to in order to provide for his family. Looking back my family was more interested in having me than the money. My dumb ass chose the money.
One thing I have come to learn in my life is you have choices even when you think you don’t. What I mean by this. Don’t forget to have a life while you’re providing for your life. Easier said than done, pardon all the cliches in this paragraph.
Here is my challenge to leaders in organizations. Let’s say that I am a member of your management team. I want to go see my kid play whatever. If you’re the ass hole that says no. My question would be your such a shitty manager that one person off your floor is going to destroy your day. What you’re telling me if I was the owner of this business. If we let one person off for a few hours, my business is going to stop?
The person asking off has such an impact on my business that he can’t be gone for a few hours? This is what you’re telling me? We’re going to screw up the head of one of our best players who must tell his child he can’t do this or that because he has to be at work. As a leader, you should have depth in your bench to move players around, so my business does not suffer. What do we do on sick days? Shut down because XYZ employee is not at work???
Companies are running sales teams, for example; if you can’t be short a guy or two and still not run at peak performance, I am going to look at my leaders and say you may not be the right fit. My teams can operate fully staffed or short-handed period.
Not allowing an employee a few hours now and again to enjoy family events that if allowed will bring back to me a better person. Parents who are proud, not stressed about not being there. How much more am I going to get out of someone who is happy than sad? If you can’t figure that out, you’re too stupid to work for me. Business can be hard, let’s not make it harder because of short-sightedness.
Most of this must be a leadership change. A culture change that hardliners are going to buck. Leaders must be able to move players around, fill holes, adapt. This is what makes a great coach; he does not focus 100% of his attention on his starters, he has a bench so he can adapt to change at the speed of business.
This has been what leaders should do. What can you do if the corporate culture you work in is unforgiving? If you find yourself in a job that it’s a brick wall when it comes to time off for life events.
Here are some not the most ideal way but a way:
- Take a vacation day. You don’t necessarily have to say why just ask for a vacation day in advance of your family event.
- See if you can get someone to cover your shift. Another parent is always a good person to ask. Trade shifts with a coworker.
If the business you work in is simply inflexible, it may be time to consider a different company. Jobs come and go but time with your family cannot be replaced. Believe me; I pay the price for that every day. Do over; I would have taken a different path.
It’s nauseating to me when I hear so-called Guru’s say you must pay an ultimate price for success. That the only path to success is at the expense of your life. If you’re chasing that Unicorn, it takes years to achieve real success and wealth. Just as you plan your career path, you need to do the exact same for your family and children.
- Birthdays you can’t get back.
- First Recital you can’t get back.
- First Football game you can’t get
- The first day at school you can’t get back.
Don’t fall into the trap of justification. You cannot justify to a child why you missed so much of their lives; they simply don’t care about your excuse. What they want is you not an excuse. After thirty-six years in business, I can tell you NOTHING was ever worth missing my family milestones. Don’t pay the same price, so many of us pay every day.
Jobs are a touchy thing for obvious reasons. Your life is also important. Think about this are you living to work or working to live? With proper time management and a little creativity with coworkers, you can find a work life, home life, balance!
At the time I wrote this I was fifty-six years old. The biggest regret I have is not taking time for my life and putting work before everything else. All the times that I stayed at work when I should have been living my life. I’m in NO way better off because I did, quite the reverse. Don’t think that money will make up for lost time it does not. Don’t think your kids are better off because you have money, ask them and I can promise you they want YOU not your money.
Don’t get me wrong we all need a job to take care of our families. Just don’t lose your family trying to take care of your family.