How important is the Nativity Play?

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.



  1. Mat Lazenby · July 23, 2010

    Hi Ed, this is such an important topic that needs to be discussed more often. Owner managers of small companies can have a very fuzzy line between work and play. If they’re working for themselves they will probably be doing what they love for a living – so the whole work/life balance Is a balancing act. Another factor is that work tends to expand to fill whatever time you allow for it, you’ve got to be ruthless and disciplined with your work hours and not allow them to fill your week and giving whatever’s left to your family time. At times we need to re-examine – what am I doing this for? We all want a rich life but are we talking money or happiness, health, memories and livinng in the now.

    • edreidyork · July 23, 2010

      Mat – thanks for contributing; I agree absolutely with each element of what you’ve said – the trick is remembering it all and then putting it into action – often easier said than done.

  2. jessica kemp · July 23, 2010

    Happy birthday Ed! Great post which really strikes a cord today. Life is what you make it eh!

    • edreidyork · July 26, 2010

      Hi Jess – thanks for your message, and the great tip about inserting a link within the blg. Now done for this one! As usual, your real-world advice is top drawer.

  3. Caroline Anderson · July 23, 2010

    Happy Birthday! Excellent blog! Matches my own sentiments.
    Thanks, Caroline

  4. Peter Bowerman · July 26, 2010

    Hi Ed, Belated happy birthday – good post. I distinctly remember missing my son’s first race at school (which he won) because of some inconsequential conference call and then missing a cricket match earlier this year to attend a prospective client meeting while my son scored 6 4’s in one over with everyone saying great shame you missed it……! Definitely advocate seeing these key ‘king Herod’ moments rather then business meetings. Memories last a life time more then the odd deal here and there.

  5. Tom Morton · July 30, 2010

    King Herod — now there was a man who REALLY needed to address his work/life balance………….!

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