Two of my friends: two distinctly different approaches to work and life.
David – driven, outwardly successful, in the office at eight, last one to leave at night, took work home at the weekend, laptop on holiday…
“Hey,” he said to me last time I saw him. “My daughter’s eighteen. Can you believe that? She’s a woman: last time I looked she was a little girl.”
OK, they may have used different words, but how many times have you heard the same sentiment? “I missed my children growing up.” If you’re a parent, there aren’t many sadder phrases than that one.
Then there was Michael – equally successful, worked hard. Yes, sometimes did a bit of work at the weekend. But a different set of priorities.
Mike worked on a freelance basis. His biggest client was a national company. They were taken over by a multi-national: two sales forces to put together, two cultures to merge. The multi-national decided three days at a hotel in Northern France was the answer. No expense spared (if you can remember those days.) Show the little boys how the big boys did business.
“I’m not going,” Mike told me.
“Hell’s bells,” I said, “This is your biggest client.”
Mike shrugged. “It means missing my son in the nativity play. He’s King Herod. And he’s my biggest client.”
The trouble is that at one time or another we’ve all been David. And there’s always the temptation to go there again. Finish the report tonight. Make the extra phone call. Go the extra mile. But once you’ve been in the delivery room, they’re not as important as King Herod.
Working with the Alternative Board members is one of the most satisfying things I’ve done. Professionally, maybe the most satisfying. You work with someone, see them achieve their goals – it’s something special.
And increasingly, those goals are about work/life balance. “Simple,” one of the new members said to me last week. “The business has to be set up so I can run it from a balcony overlooking the Mediterranean.” Now there’s a challenge. Especially if he has to get back for the Nativity Play…
Anyway, that’s enough for this week. Time to pay some attention to my own work/life balance. There’s a very important birthday in the Reid household today. Mine.