One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever gotten, and I make a point to think about daily- “No amount of success at work makes up for failure at home.”
One of my favorite parts about business is the opportunity to meet new people and learn from their experiences. A couple months ago I met with a man who was well into his career and has done exceptionally well. We talked for half an hour or so about a lot of different things, but those words were the ones I remembered most. So much so that I wrote them down immediately and printed them out to hang in my office.
“No amount of success at work makes up for failure at home.”
From the time I started my business classes in school, I was excited about making connections and progressing in my career. I thought about it so much so that it seemed to consume my thoughts every day and sometimes well into the night. All I could think about was learning everything I could to succeed in my career. When I wasn’t doing that, I was trying to network as much as I could. I’m still not 100% sure why I pushed so hard and stressed myself out. Maybe it was the chance to make a lot of money. Maybe success. Maybe approval from others. Whatever it was, one thing was certain; it wasn’t healthy, and it began to take its toll on me. The harder I pushed and tried to make things happen, the worse things got and the more stressed I became. I was unhealthy and unhappy but continued to push myself.
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As I neared the end of my time in college, I was excited to get into the “real world” of business and start working my way toward the top. I started a job right out of school that included a lot of traveling and a lot of opportunities to meet all types of people around the country. I had what I thought I wanted: a promising career in a fun industry and the opportunity to move up quickly. I was away from home often, and even when I was home, my mind was on work. I was constantly stressed- “How will I make my goals? Where am I flying this week? How can I make more commission?” Notice a similar pattern through all of this… A majority of my thoughts revolved around myself.
Right as things were looking like they were going to turn out exactly as I had planned, my wife and I got some challenging news about my health (I’ll talk more about that in a future post). The fast paced lifestyle, lack of sleep, and ultimately the stress I was putting on myself stopped me in my tracks. I wish that I could say I made a positive change overnight and took control, but unfortunately, that’s not how it happened. Lasting change rarely happens overnight.
Over the next two years we fought and fought, but not much seemed to change; actually things became much worse. I still focused way too much on my professional career, and although I felt better at times, I was still very sick. During the course of those two years, we exhausted most of my treatment options and ended up at the hospital for another stay that had even my doctors scratching their heads. One thing I find ironic is the thing that I was making most important in my life (work) was nowhere to be found. When I wasn’t there for work, it wasn’t there for me. Four days later I was out. Weak and discouraged, I knew I had to make some changes and take control over the stress that was wrecking my life. If I was going to come out on the other side of this, I was going to have to get my priorities straight.
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Over the next few months with the help of my wife, I became much more disciplined than I’ve ever been. I started eating much healthier, stopped abusing my body with stress and long hours, and tried not to bring work home if I could help it. I also started paying more attention to the most important things in life; my faith and my family. If anything in my career affected those things, I didn’t tolerate it. I cut it out. The change wasn’t immediate. I didn’t get sick in one day, and I certainly wouldn’t get better in one day. The first month was actually one of the worst I’ve had as I tried to adjust to my new diet.
It’s now been 9 months since I’ve made these changes. I can’t lie and say it’s all been easy. There’s still always going to be bad days, and doctors say I’ll never be 100% better, but that’s not what’s important anymore. It’s a great place to be in life when you realize how unimportant everything in life is compared to faith and family. It doesn’t mean you don’t work hard; it means you work hard for the right reasons. The funny thing is, I actually enjoy work much more now that my priorities are straight. I’d argue that I’m a much better employee too. The more efficient I am and the better work I produce, the more time I get to spend at home with the ones I love most!
So next time you’re stressed about making the next big sale or focusing on the next big promotion, just remember, it’s really not that important. It could all be gone tomorrow. But when you focus on the right things and work for the right reasons, things just seem to work out.
As of today, I’m doing great and haven’t felt this good since high school! I’d never be able to do any of this without my amazing wife. Not only is she my best friend and support, but she’s also on the diet with me and keeps me motivated to do my best! There will be more tough times ahead of course, but I know if I stay focused on the right things, it’ll all work out.