"But, Tony!" I hear the protests now. "Don't talk to me about priorities! This is corporate America, and I'm in the thick of it. You and I both know that the words family-first are basically the same thing as career suicide."
Well, I believe that a well-balanced set of priorities is far better for your career and your ultimate success than one that puts work above all else.
The quoted sections in blue are excerpts from my book, The Difference Maker. Let's see what Taylor Bellows is up to:
So there I was, raking in more dough than I could ever spend. Working my tail off day after day, week after week, month after month, then having nothing—well, I had plenty to show for it, but no time to enjoy it. Life was swallowing me up. I felt like I existed only for the purpose of providing salaries for the hundreds of people who worked for me. Or for bringing home a paycheck for Allison. I didn't resent it; I just worried I was missing something.
By then I had learned a lot about true success, true mentorship, and true leadership, and I had identified the next area of focus for my personal growth. Courage. All of those other things, when they lined up just right, were great. But where I faltered in them is where I had to walk in faith with courage and boldness. When I had the backing of business manuals and executives who agreed with my decisions and people who told me I was right, I could be bold. But when courage called me to go against the tidal wave of public opinion, or to face a giant, that's where I struggled.
So I looked at the biggest source of angst in my life, my schedule, and I decided to make a courageous move...
I worked on my plan over the weekend, then Monday morning each employee of Bellows International opened their e-mail to a one-page missive from me, Taylor Bellows.
Dear valued Bellows employee,
The following is a directive from me and is expected to be followed without exception starting this day.
Every employee will be permitted to work a flex schedule in order to live out personal priorities. For those dependent on tracking hours, you may submit a time sheet for hours you put in at home. Does this mean you can move your entire position to your home office? That is for you to decide based on a balance between your family and personal needs and the job you have to do.
No employee of Bellows International will be permitted to work any hours on Sundays. This includes the creating and/or sending of emails.
It is my desire that you will work a proper business day, that you will put in your greatest effort during those hours and then return home, leaving work behind. In the morning, please have breakfast with your family, stop for coffee with some friends, or get in some exercise. In other words, do not start work until you’ve cared for yourself and your loved ones.
Please take a one-hour paid lunch break during each workday. In the evening, every employee should hurry home as close to five o'clock as possible to enjoy your family or pleasurable activities. Please plan your day to ensure communication with our international business partners in a timely manner that does not entail late or extreme hours for yourself.
Life is too short to run yourself into exhaustion. Bellows International will crank on as it has been, or it won't. Either way it's up to God. It's not your job to give your life for this company.
For those of you who've been working as an hourly employee and are counting on those overtime hours, rest easy. The hours you’ve been paid over the last year will be averaged, and that will become your new salary for your forty-hour workweek.
While your feedback is always appreciate, this decision has been made. My secretary will not be putting through negative calls or e-mails on this issue. Thank you for your support and your continued dedication to Bellows International, and to me.
Okay, I get it. The book is a fable after all and your company's CEO hasn't sent out a letter like that. And he/she probably won't (unless he reads my book.) The point isn't to get every organization to look like Bellows International. The point is to make you think about what you can do. You can still apply the principles to your own life.
- If you really believe in the value of health and happiness to your overall success, you can begin protecting your physical needs. Exercise. Eat well. Get sleep. It really is that simple.
- If you truly believe that family and faith must come first, then stop working on Sundays, take time to rest, spend time with your family, attend worship if you desire, fellowship over a meal. Give them YOU!
- If you truly believe in your own value, then stop competing with others on the hamster wheel that's going nowhere, and work to your best ability within the parameters of reason and well-orders priorities.
Being a Difference Maker in the lives of others begins with being one in your own life. Ultimately, you need to present the best you possible to the people who are important to you. By doing that, you'll avoid burnout, which is the surest form of career suicide there is.
family picture by Ambro, courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net
To get a copy of my book go to Amazon.com