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Is Your Family Getting Your "Left-Overs?"

Jan 26, 2008
Two Steps to Creating Balance in '08

How well did you balance your work and home life in 2007? Did you experience abundance in both arenas? Or was your house a pit stop: a stop in the road where you could re-fuel, change the tires (clothes), and get back to work?

As 2008 finds its pace consider the most important leadership upgrade you can make is one that provides an immeasurable return on investment: It's time to get serious about creating balance.

How Much Sense Does It Make?

The average people around you wake up at 5:00 a.m. Driving in a fog, they commit that at the end of the day, their "family will get my best." As they approach work, the day pounces on them: emails have multiplied overnight, insulting bosses have left voice messages with impossible demands, the fire-drills ensue with back-to-back meetings, resources evaporate ... and they slip into the negative fantasy about what it might be like to work for another organization. But most are smart enough to realize everyone is this busy.

In the early evening they merge onto a highway that is now a parking lot. Grumbling, they focus on these elements of the day: the stupid decisions made by others; the to-do list that grew exponentially; and a spouse who isn't as attractive as they once were. Then, in the growing darkness, they turn their car into the driveway. Like a zombie they shuffle into the house.

How much sense does it make that our family gets our left-overs? What's it costing the ones we love when all we can deliver is the little energy we have left at the end of the day? What does it mean to a child and spouse when the focus they receive are found only in the fragments of a shattered day?

What difference would it make if you were at your best - when it was time to provide the most important leadership on the planet?

Balance Requires Leadership

Those amongst us who live exceptional lives are waking up to the fact that if they are to realize greater balance it will require leadership on their part; no one else will do this for us. And, while working in a world that will eat them up if they let it, they all want to achieve. They want to show that they're capable.

So, what do they do to balance it all?

Balance, Step 1: Add Meaning To Your Life

Nearly everyone knows that the moment you make a difference, the moment you serve others, you add meaning to your life. Tragically, most people think the only way they can make a difference is at their church or volunteering or contributing to charities.

Yet, we spend most of our waking hours at work. What would happen if your workplace became your greatest venue for adding meaning to your life? How would it change things if each day you brought the spirit of the student - wondering and seeking new ways to grow? How wise would you be by the end of your career if you saw each 'frustration' as personal growth opportunities on your road to greater enlightenment? And what would be the implications of conducting yourself in a way that lifted the people around you?

Consider the possibility that our work hours are our most vital for acting on the basic human need to make a difference. When this is done, balance is no longer a question - and "it's all one life" becomes the answer.

"I was struggling with the lack of balance in my life," says Susan, who works for a leading eye-care company. "I felt like I was putting a lot into work but was not getting a lot back. Because we have changed how we are showing up for work, the workplace has changed. I'm now getting more from work and consequently I feel more balance. For the most part it's not about the calendar. There's never going to be enough time. So it has to be about meaning. If you're adding meaning to your life then what you do affects you and others."

Balance, Step 2: Master the Transition

When you walk in the door at home, how focused are you? Are you present as the children hug your knees? Or are you still sifting through the memories of what didn't get done at the office?

Transform your commute home into the priceless opportunity it is. Take advantage of the uninterrupted time to end the workday and begin your family time. This won't happen from intention alone. First, take steps to harvest the value in the day past. Then, create a plan to bring home your best.

Use these four time-tested and proven questions on your drive home:

1) What is something I learned today that will be valuable?

2) What is something I did well today?

3) What are the greatest blessings in my life?

4) What can I do to be at my best tonight?

In 2008, ensure that your family does not get your left-overs. Lead yourself by taking the above two steps - and deliver the best to those who deserve it the most.
About the Author
Stomp the Elephant in the Office employs the programs and concepts successfully implemented by Pathways to Leadership, Inc., formed by Steven Vannoy and Craig Ross. To find out how big the elephant in YOUR office is, visit Stomp the Elephant
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