Work- and Home-life balance

Whilst I rarely watch or read the news if I can help it, one thing I consciously read every Sunday is Luke Johnson’s article at the back of the Sunday Times’ ‘Business’ pullout.

Today’s feature looked at the business and home lives of entrepreneurs, and was titled “Business is business – but home life must stay personal”. Full of gems as per usual, here are a few of the key extracts:

“In may ways entrepreneurs can be full of contradictions: their strengths are their weaknesses, too. In particular, what can be a positive in business can be destructive in their personal lives.”

“The best chief executives I know are frugal in how they spend money, and know exactly where the cash goes. They believe all purchases are negotiable, and that keeping tight control of expenses is one of the secrets in building a successful company. But often this affects their behaviour at home. They see personal outgoings as “overheads”; they worry that everyone from the plumber to the nanny is ripping them off. They forget to enjoy the lavish Mediterranean holiday because they are obsesses about the extortionate price for the villa, the rental car, the meals out.”

“Denial and graft cannot be the purpose of home life. that is more about consumption – spending the fruits of one’s labours and enjoying the winnings.”

“… in my opinion, an appetite for hard work is a precursor to achievement in business. But this inclination often exhibits itself domestically as workaholism – an overwhelming dedication to a career leading to the impoverishment of family life.”

“We have all read tragic stories of tycoons whose children go off the rails – drugs, self harm, etc – and all too often because they received too many goodies but not enough parental attention.”

“Getting different aspects of one’s life in proportion is easier said than done; an ability to compartmentalise is a great talent but one, it seems, that only a few possess.”

“Unfortunately, the encroachment of digital communications means there is rarely any true escape from the incubus of business. In intrudes in the evening, at weekends, on holiday. Too often I have allowed a rogue email to spoil a Sunday afternoon.”

“On the BBC archive one can find a wonderful documentary called The Solitary Billionaire. It was made in 1963 and features J Paul Getty being interviewed by the comparable Alan Whicker. At the time Getty was the richest man in the world… His private life was a shambles – five marriages and deeply dysfunctional relationships with his children. Getty wrote a bestseller called How to be Rich. It is a useful primer on making money, but not much of a guide to how to live a fulfilling life.”

The full article is available to those with a membership with The Times, here.

Luke Johnson’s article made me think of Walmart founder Sam Walton’s famous proclamation of “I blew it” on his deathbed – a man who apparently “had it all” judging by Walmart’s huge success and the sheer abundance of wealth he had creased, and yet expressed a huge regret about his life right at the end (read more about that here and here).

It’s important to keep perspective and life a balanced life. Whilst building a company is a fantastic journey, and there are many inspiration founders and companies out there, home/personal life are just as important – if not more so. (And probably a defining component of one’s life, helping ground them and keep them at bay when it comes to their business life).

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