By Rick Melmer – Leadership Coach
What if I asked you which is more important, 5 to 8 or 8 to 5? You would likely give me a quizzical look and ask for more information. So what if I asked it this way, “What is more eternal, the daily events that occur from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm or the events that occur from 5:00 pm to 8:00 am?” In other words, which is more important, your professional life or your personal life?
I’m on the back end of my leadership career. With that comes a perspective that I didn’t enjoy earlier in my life. I’ve been blessed with a wonderful wife and three children who have made me proud. As I age, I can tell you that my children, their lives and the lives of our beautiful grandchildren will provide us with a great deal of happiness. How will that compare with the joy that I will get from my professional accomplishments? You probably already know the answer to that question – my family will provide me with extended joy and my professional life will not. I have enjoyed a wonderful professional life that provided me with a wealth of opportunities. However, one thing I discovered about my professional life that isn’t true in my personal life is that I WAS REPLACEABLE. Every time I left a job, the organization found a replacement for me. Imagine that! I was replaceable. The chair didn’t set empty. Life went on without me – there was a new Sheriff in town.
Interestingly, that couldn’t happen in my family. I AM IRREPLACEABLE. If I died tomorrow or moved to Tahiti, I would still be my wife’s husband and my childrens’ father. These are roles that while a surrogate could cover for me – I have a permanent place in my families lives.
So why did I spend some much time as a younger man investing in a series of jobs in which I would be REPLACED and too often not giving my best to my family, for which I am IRREPLACABLE? I suppose it was because of the immediate fulfillment I received from working hard. Or the desire I had to provide my family with things that I thought they needed. In any event, while I may have struggled with the answer to my initial question a few years ago, it is a slam dunk for me today.
Working hard is important and necessary for most of us. However, we should reserve our best for the roles in which we have no replacements. Give your family your best – the dividends will be obvious for the rest of your lives.