Here’s a thought. If we are constantly stressed, constantly working, and constantly arriving home wrung out, then what sort of role model are we giving to our children? What messages are we sending them and our partners about what we believe to be important?
I imagine that most people would prefer to be presenting the role model of a well-rounded, interested and energetic person. Yet the way we behave is the exact opposite. So, what happens?
It seems that we lose the plot. We know the adage about “On their deathbed, no-one wishes they’d spent more time at the office.” But still many put work first. We arrive home late and tired with nothing left to give. We do not present the best version of ourselves to the ones that are the most important to us.
Steven Covey’s Funeral Speech exercise gets us to imagine what people will really and truthfully say about us at our funeral (“workaholic, never had the time, regretted not seeing the kids grow up…”). It then asks you to imagine what you would want them to say about you (“Great dad, loyal friend, always had the time…”). My hunch is that what you want people to say about you is a pretty good clue about how you should live your life. It is a template telling you what your priorities should be.
Often, we work too hard at being a busy fool (running up a ladder as fast as we can only to discover that it is leaning against the wrong tree). It is time to get the priorities addressed. You can’t do everything, so agree what is most important and ditch the rest. Be decisive and put your priorities at the front of your list.
Working weekends and late nights is a fool’s errand. You will simply create more To Do lists and continue an ever-increasing spiral of things to do. Far better to leave work at 5.00pm and enjoy some quality family time. By prioritising and working on high value, high impact activities, you will achieve just as much. By leveraging other resources (people, technology) and taking yourself out of the centre of the equation, you will create a business that can grow and flourish without leaving you washed and dried up.
Covey also talks about trying to fill a vase with rocks, stones, sand and water. You start by filling it with the big stuff (friends, family, faith, finance, fitness) and only then do you infill with stones then sand then water (the less important things). If you start with the less important things there is no room for the important stuff. This is all about setting clear goals and targets in the different areas of your life. Creating a limited number of high-level goals that you can work towards day by day, week by week and quarter by quarter.
The highly effective, highly productive decision-makers have a system or process to articulate goals and to break them down into manageable chunks. They don’t live by an endless To Do list but by having big goals that they systematically work through and achieve. They have a bigger picture. They know what they are doing and why they are doing it. Everything fits together and works together to create a powerful results-focused machine.
Might I ask, when did you last have fun? Fun is not business. Yes, you can enjoy your business but business is a means to an end. I am talking about fun… belly laughing… uninhibited joy…
So, to conclude, are you creating a role model of a workaholic? Is that the role model you intended to create? What role model do you really want to create?