Work and Life in the Balance

As recently as 18 months ago, Jada and Aaron were the only kids between the ages of 0 and 13 represented at my firm; all my co-workers either had no kids or older kids.  Fast-forward to the present, and, in addition to Asher, there are now three other kids under the age of 5.

But kids are obviously not the only non-work responsibility employees face.  Caring for a sick parent, going to school on the side, and buying or fixing up a house also count as major things to juggle along with a demanding job, and the list goes on and on.  Plus there are funner and more restful pursuits, like romance and travel and sports and the arts and civic engagement.

We are a professional services firm, which means we only survive if we are responsive to our clients.  Which means, at times, high stress and long hours and uncompromising devotion to getting something done or being somewhere.

But, because we are a professional services firm, our only real assets are our human assets.  And our employees, as humans, need to have a life outside of work, in order to be happy and tend to things that matter and cultivate the whole of their being.

This may seem obvious, but not all firms provide space for such non-work pursuits.  The business model for some companies is to work people such insane hours that there is practically no time for anything but work.  Or, even if you are not pushed to the brink, the not-so-subtle culture rewards long hours and looks down on people who leave the office at a reasonable hour or that have other allegiances besides the firm.

Such is the balance I seek for myself, both for my own well-being and to set an example for my co-workers.  For there are times when work has to take a backseat to non-work pursuits, and vice versa.  And, if we value our employees and want to keep them healthy and engaged, we need to push them when they're needed but also give them space when that's what they need.

For me, that's meant being home for dinner most nights.  It's also meant taking client calls during my Aaron's karate practice, Jada's choir rehearsals, and even while I was in the hospital during Asher's first days of life.

It's a constant struggle to know you're never doing quite as much as you'd like in either place.  But it's good to know I have flexibility and time to give myself fully to both.  It's important to me for me, and for the good people I have the honor of working with on a day to day basis who are watching me and who are taking in a message about how we are as a firm based on my actions and decisions.  Hopefully we're getting it right.  Our firm's future, and people's well-being, are both at stake.

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