Like most people, I usually spend lunchtime eating lunch. Yesterday, though, I attended a funeral.
One of our friends lost her seven-year-old daughter last Friday. It was completely unexpected and what had started as any other ordinary day in their lives instead ended in tragedy.
As I sat through the service watching a slide show of images from this wonderful child’s life and seeing her father, mother and sister broken by their loss, I couldn’t help but think about how often I neglect those who mean the most to me in a race to get one more thing accomplished at work.
For example, I’ve eaten dinner during the week with my wife and two girls five or six times in the past three months. Last week, my three-year-old asked me why I don’t eat with her any more.
How many times can our presentations, press releases, emails, strategy POVs, and everything in between wait until tomorrow morning? In my experience, most of the time there is no difference between the majority of whimsically-proposed end-of-the-day deadlines and first-thing-in the morning – except a date on a time stamp.
Managers – What kind of work/life balance are you setting for the people you direct? Do you practice what you preach?
Those Being Managed – It is okay to make your family and friends a priority. Step away from the computer more. Set some boundaries and stick to them most of the time (urgent matters do come up after all).
It’s easy to put those closest to us off for work. They’ll understand, right? We’ll have more time to spend with them in a couple years when things will surely settle down a little.
What if we don’t have a couple years, though?
If something were to happen to one of my own children unexpectedly, I can’t imagine being glad I missed all those dinners with her so I could get a few more emails in the sent folder or a draft plan to my team a few hours earlier. Yesterday I decided I’m going to start making it home in time for dinner more often.
Is there anything you could do differently to put a little more focus on the people who matter most to you?
*Image by Travis Miller.