Sometimes, Work On Not Working
I recently listened to a speech from a successful executive, and at the end when questions were being asked, an individual posed a question that caught my attention. I was not as caught off guard by the question as I was by the answer.
Question: “What is the thing that you are most proud of?”
Answer: “Work-life balance.”
The speaker didn’t hesitate when he started to explain that it wasn’t a company he had sold for billions, or being on the cutting edge of revolutionary technologies. He explained that it was not one individual thing or set of things that he had accomplished through his businesses, but instead how he balances his life and his work.
His answer was so simple that it resonated with me on a deep level. It rang in my ear like the unavoidable siren that passes with a fire truck at full speed. Here, in front of me, one of the most successful tech executives Orange County has ever seen, and his answer to what he is most proud of was so simple, so important, and so profound.
When I left the event, the question “What are you most proud of?” stayed in my mind for a long time. It made me think about how life is a delicate balance, and how sometimes we forget to pay attention to proper balance because we are out of balance in the first place. This complexity makes me visualize “work-life balance” as a dynamic regression equation that needs constant fine tuning. In order to help keep it simple, of the many things that need to be balanced in life, here are three in particular that come to mind for executives.
#1. Balance your budget. This is easier said than done, but is one of the most important things for you to do. Establish your spending plan, verify what you spend, and adjust accordingly. When was the last time you made a monthly budget? Do you know how much money you’re really spending? Are you spending more than you have or more than you should? Be honest with yourself and make sure your budget is balanced.
#2. Balance your relationships. Executives are known for putting in a lot of time, work, blood, sweat, tears, energy, and sometimes nearly everything they have into their businesses. This increases the difficulty in spending time with people outside of work. If you are always busy, people will learn that you don’t have or can’t make time for them and they’ll stop asking you to hang out. Give yourself the opportunity to relax, to disconnect, to make yourself available, and to make a point to spend valuable time with the people whose company you enjoy, and do activities that make you happy. For me, I go sailing!
#3. Balance your health. Executives who are doing cartwheels and backflips for their businesses may find themselves going without sleep, forgetting to eat, and/or not drinking enough water. If you don’t take care of your health, things will start to fall apart and you will be working against yourself. Fill your body with healthy food, drink plenty of water each day, exercise your muscles, and stimulate your brain (with natural chemicals, not drugs). A healthy mind and healthy body is recipe for a healthy business.
If you plan on being a successful executive, you must be conscious about how to make your life a healthy combination of your business, your personal affairs, and your health.
Oftentimes we are busy and running so fast, that our compass course may change slightly without notice and we find out too late after much time and distance that we are far from our desired waypoint. To ensure that you get to the destination you want, make sure you are taking steps to create a healthy balance in your life and your work.
Seriously, make sure that you work on not working.