What time do you give to yourself? Rowena and I were walking on the track by our house the other day and it was one of those lovely moments where the rest of the world was left out and we were completely present with each other and the lovely area we were walking through.
It got me to thinking – which is usually risky – about a series of (coaching) conversations that I’d had with several people in a large corporation I had been asked to engage with. The conversation would get to the question of “how much time do you give to work, how much time do you give to everything else in your life that’s important and what’s most important?”
These were senior leaders in the business and I’d get many different answers depending on their personal situation, relationship, social commitment etc. I’d usually get an answer like “I really need to get this work done”, “I’m so busy that there aren’t enough hours”, “this job is a stepping stone and I have to show I’m capable of dealing with the pressure”, “we’re snowed under and I have to make sacrifices” and any number of other reasons why work was more important in their life than the living of it.
I would challenge them on why they would do that as opposed to spending precious time with their loved ones and doing the things that they truly loved doing. I also need you to understand that I get it that for some people they identify so much with work or their role that it is who they become, which actually that makes me sad because life has so much more to offer.
The other thing is that by spending more time at work doesn’t mean you’re more efficient or more effective it just means that the holes that your extra effort is filling are hidden so the business or organisation is inefficient as leadership can’t identify the gaps and therefore put other people in them.
I actively encourage people to work to their agreed work hours, become more flexible in how they work and put the emphasis on their role at home, with family friends and others as often as possible.
When it comes down to it, and what I clearly explain to people, is that business will roll on with you or without you, and your contribution, effort and hard work – while important at the time – will be forgotten quickly as others fill the gap made after your departure, retirement or even during your leave taking.
If you really want to have a look at a non-traditional and interestingly economic approach have a look at Finland’s approach to the 6 hour a day, 4-day work week. Imagine that.
People are happy to go to work, make a greater contribution in a shorter time and go home. As I stated earlier, thinking for me is usually risky. Remember – Love your family first.