If you came to this blog looking for five easy steps to get better work-life balance, I am sorry to disappoint you. What you are going to find is a story because stories can inspire, they can provide hope. Humans have not been gathering around the campfire to tell each other four simple tips to improve. Our story starts on a bus.
Ten hours on a bus from Boston to our nation’s capital with 50 7th graders; this was the start of April vacation. My son, Anthony, and his classmates were going to spend the week in Washington DC to see the sights and hopefully learn something along the way. I had agreed to go as a chaperone and was now realizing that 7th-grade boys and their shoes can change the air quality in confined spaces quite quickly.
I know you are picturing lots of screaming and yelling, but that was not the case. There were lots of faces glued to the screens of their phones, and I kid you not, talking to the people in the next seats over through their phones and not by turning their heads. All in all, it was a long, quiet and pungent ride. It provided ample time to ponder on many subjects like what I could be doing at work, what did I forget to do before leaving. Here I am on a trip with my son and my mind is elsewhere worrying about work.
To get an understanding of where I am coming from, last year I left the financial industry to work for the business my father and step-mother built from the ground up. I realized I was concerned about being away from work because I worried was letting my father down by missing something during my vacation. My concern for one side of the family was taking me away from the trip with my son.
It was the moment of epiphany. My mind quickly jumped back to February of 1986 to a cub scout event my father, and I attended. It was a sleepover with the hopes to see Hailey’s Comet as it streaked across the sky on its 75-year orbit of the Earth. I could not tell you if my father and I ever saw the comet, but it is a memory I will always cherish because it was just the two of us.
There is a duality between work and life.
We need to work to provide the life we want for our families, and the work we do shapes our lives. Work and life, these two forces are opposite yet interwoven, much like fathers and sons. It is called Yin and Yang in Chinese philosophy.
I feel this every day. I am blessed to work in my family’s business. This company is the blood, sweat, and tears of my father and my step-mother. It provided for my brother and me when we were growing up. It is what helped us through college. This company is my parent’s legacy. It is our past, our present, and our future.
I realized all of this before we were out of Connecticut. It was a wonderful trip with great kids and chaperones. I hope all the kids were able to appreciate the sights they saw and more importantly the gift their families gave them with this trip.
If you are expecting this story to contain a bonding moment between Anthony and myself, I hate to let you down, but he is a 7th-grade boy. I hope he will look back as fondly as I do. To my father and my son, thank you for the memories. I love you.
Find your work-life balance. Understand your work makes other parts of your life possible. Enjoy the life you have built through your work.