There’s a famous quote I always remind my team of: “if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together”. There’s an abundance of wisdom in this quote, and at its heart there is a message that should be true to all of us – go together, the process is far more rewarding.
While I use this quote in the context of my team, it’s mostly applicable at home, and certainly when you’re an entrepreneur. Now, it doesn’t mean you have to be colleagues with your family, but it does mean you should see each other as teammates. The pot of gold at the end of this? Balance.
Family is something that keeps me grounded amongst the pressures of work, helping provide me with perspective and a sense of balance. That balance is, statistically, linked to higher performance, and that matters to you as a person in a position of leadership.
In this article, I will be giving my views on why balance is critical in the context of work and family, how I achieve it, and hopefully providing some actionable recommendations that you can take forward into your own lives.
Why Balance Matters
Balance is kind of a zen term. It’s associated with work-life balance, which is in itself linked to improved mental and physical health, greater performance in the workplace, and better overall wellbeing. So, actually, if you’re somebody who sees work and family as a trade off, it could be argued that balance is actually critical for the optimal conditions of both.
The National Study of the Changing Workforce recently found that approximately 40% of employees reported that their job interferes with family life, while 35% reported that their family life interferes with their job.
The very fact that people believe there is a trade off between both is an indication of a lack of balance in itself. Add to this, the belief that family could be intrusive on work, and there’s a case to be made that a serious reevaluation of how work and family are to cooperate with one another.
The bottom line – balance matters. And one sure way you can find balance is by delving into family time, and prioritising it as much as your work.
It’s often the times away from work for example, when I’m surrounded by family and loved ones, that I actually gather the clearest perspective about my work. Those quiet moments are the times I find my creativity, my next idea, my vision for what comes next. All in a reduced pressure environment, where eyes are not so focused on decision making, and I feel supported in my thinking.
Think of it from a perspective of leadership too. You’re in a position to set the right tone for your business as a leader, but is it the right thing to promote constant work, and lack of balance in your personal life? Set the right tone as a leader – it’s vital. Your team will follow you, and every decision you make as a leader soon becomes part of the culture of your company, no matter how big or small.
How I Find Balance
Firstly, one thing that should be addressed is the nature of balance. Balance has a lot to do with having a job you love. You don’t seek balance if you love what you do – you already have it. But, the reality is that the stresses of high pressured environments do catch up with us all, including myself.
I consider myself to be in a role that I love, but would I love it if it was all I ever focused on? Mostly definitely not! And that’s fine. Consider yourself a battery that needs to be recharged, and your family time is your charging dock.
The first thing I do to find balance is build a solid team around me. The key to this? Delegation. When you need to lighten the load, and take time away from work, I can rely on those in my team to pick up the slack. The same should be true for the other way around. Now, as a business owner this won’t always come naturally to you – it’s a critical skill that you must learn to do. Hire competent staff that are willing to carry the load for you, and pick it up for them when needed, which undoubtedly will come more naturally!
The second – reduce your availability. The way I achieve this is by setting clear boundaries with my team, and communicating priorities very clearly. The enemy of balance is lack of clarity, as ambiguity fuels uncertainty which then creates reliance on you. It may seem like a virtue to always be available, 24/7 quite literally sometimes. Maybe 20 years ago that would have been admired, but today it’s not looked at so favourably, and thank goodness for that. Setting clear boundaries will be applauded, just go with it.
Finally, have another world to delve into! This is probably my least insightful piece of advice, but arguably the most important. When you leave your working world behind for the evening and the weekend, head into another world, another routine. Evening walks with my darling retriever Lucy are a part of my routine, and it’s just a little something that I can always rely on to provide balance to my life. Throw in a couple of hobbies and you have a separate life that will define you as much as your working life does.
The Consequences Of Balance
Your family is a blessing that will help you unlock your potential as a business leader. In your position as an entrepreneur, these are two constant subjects to balance, but there are many ways to do it.
Indeed, strike the critical balance between work and family correctly, and you’ll find yourself happier, you’ll feel more empowered, sleep better, feel more engaged, and you’ll realise your potential to a greater degree. All while fostering the level of relationships with your loved ones that you’ve always wanted to achieve.