Written By Brock Blake
Several years ago, I had an eye-opening experience while in the midst of venture capital pitches and fundraising discussions for my company, Lendio.com. I remember one particular VC who ruined his chance of partnering with us right from the start when he said:
"I don't know how anyone can be a parent and a CEO at the same time. The reality is that the startup will need way too much attention, and it's just not worth it to have a family while being a CEO."
Those words pierced me to the core. Being a parent is incredibly fulfilling and meaningful to me, and I believe that you can be a successful both as a CEO and as a parent.
What's more, a healthy balance between work and home makes me a better CEO. Taking time away from the office to be with my family helps keep me grounded. It’s easy to lose track of what’s really important when you’re faced with the challenges of running a business every day. There’s always a reason to stay late, work through the weekends, or otherwise ignore the family. I think that’s why so many CEOs focus on nothing but work.
I’ve also found that stepping away from the office gives me a chance to look at challenges from a fresh perspective -- often leading to more creative solutions. And it’s just as important for the rest of the team to do the same. It makes them better employees.
I have been juggling my parent and CEO roles for seven years, and these five tips have helped me to manage them successfully.
5 Strategies for Balancing Work and Family Life
1. Identify Priorities
Prioritizing is critical to accomplishing your goals. Jotting down a list of items that are most important allows you to make decisions about meaningful activities and whether or not they take precedence. Without priorities the urgent will always take over, and you’ll be left frustrated that you missed something important for something that may have been urgent, but less important. The three highest priorities on my list that I rarely miss are: family dinner, daily time with each child, and a weekly date with my wife.
2. Create a Plan
Once you establish your priorities, create a plan of attack that lets you accomplish your highest priorities. The plan will likely include a detailed schedule of work, family time, meals, etc. For example, Sheryl Sandberg (COO at Facebook) leaves work each day at 5:30 pm. It's obvious that she set her priority (dinner with the kids), and she also created a plan on how to meet her prioritized goals.
3. Be Disciplined
The hardest part about executing on the plan is being disciplined enough to actually meet your goals. In all likelihood, something at the office will challenge your weekly plans and priorities. Appointment requests will come, challenges will arise, meetings will go long, deadlines will loom, and there will always be excuses to make an exception.
Those times will test your priorities. However, you can handle most of the items without making exceptions or excuses if you just stick to your plan. I do my best to communicate my intentions from the beginning.
4. Hard Work and a Little Sacrifice
For the plan to work, you must be willing to put in the effort and make the necessary sacrifices to be a great CEO. This will likely mean early mornings, late nights, and efficient work schedules. It also means sacrificing social activities with friends, colleagues, or co-workers.
In order to make time for my family and be effective at building my company, my daily schedule usually includes 30-90 minutes of early-morning and late-night work sessions. This time allows me to work uninterrupted on important projects or to catch up on email.
5. Be "All-In"
Some people attempt to juggle their work and personal life by multi-tasking. This is a bad habit that leads to failure, both as a parent and as a CEO. When I'm at work, I'm all-in. I give everything that I have each hour of the day and night in order to lead my company successfully.
At the same time, I also try to be all-in when it comes to spending time with my kids. They crave and deserve my undivided attention, and they're the first to know when I'm distracted by work items on my iPhone.
And finally, I’ve learned that the measures of success are very different for work and home. At work, success is measured by results. Some people get confused and measure their success by how much time they put in. At home, it's the exact opposite. A happy life at home is about dedicated time
I'm neither a perfect CEO nor a perfect parent. I'm just doing my best to be happy, and these principles have helped. If you have work/life balance tips that you'd like to share, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brock Blake is the CEO of Lendio.com and a proud parent.
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