In business, everything is seemingly urgent. We’ve gone through years of our life trying to buy into this BS phrase of work-life balance where we’re trying to get everything scheduled and proper. The truth is that “9 to 5” and the word “balance” is not real and has never been real historically. Because you’re an entrepreneur, you’re in control of your time. You’re not judged and guided by hours because there is no balance. It’s what’s right and what needs to be done. You need to realize what’s important versus what’s urgent. You can only do so much, but you have to get certain things done. When you are doing whatever task is at hand, be in it. Stop the guilt about the decisions you make because you’re making them for the right reasons. Enjoy and take a day off because you earned it, and have a great time doing it.
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Stop The Guilt: Busting The Myth About Work-Life Balance
My wife and I were cracking up writing the minute notes for this podcast. We actually just had a buddy over. He does some work around the house for us. He knows we were literally prepping to come right into this room, lock the door and podcast, and he noticed that my wife was pouring a glass of champagne and I was pouring myself a smoked Knob Creek bourbon-based drink during the day on a Friday. He started cracking, he’s like, “I thought you guys had one more podcast to do?” I said, “We do but we expressly need these two drinks because this is a very special podcast.” Which it is. The title of this podcast is Stop the Guilt. What is this podcast about?
This is the best one ever. It’s about balance. I laugh every time someone says, ” You have to have balance in your life. This is the only way you’re going to make it through.” No, I don’t think you’re going to have to balance in your life. You just have to know how sway and do life as it comes. Definitely plan for it, but not every day am I going to work. If I wanted my day to sleep, I want to eat, I want to read, I would like to make sure I work out. I need some personal time so I don’t get overloaded, but I still need to make sure that I have educational time because there is someone who always knows more than I do. I need to set some time with my spouse and I need family time. We have four children who obviously need our time and attention. That is one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, and don’t forget about OC who we just worked with because he’s working on our house. I’m not sure if that falls underneath the home time, spouse time. If I took those just eight items and there’s 24 hours in a day, if I’m going to actually do balance, it means each of those items should demand three hours of my time. That’s just not real. The one thing I love about a business is that I can actually make my own time. There are days where I don’t look at my emails because I found something else that’s more important for me to do. Whether or not it’s educational by reading or it’s spending time with my spouse who is the most important rock that I have. The next are my children. Again, that was very important if you want to hear that one more time. My spouse is my most important rock and then it is my children. They will grow and they will leave the nest and what will be left behind is the most important man in my life. Children do not come first and I’m sure I’ll hear blow back on that, but that is the reality.
Let me jump in before you go further because you’re about to roll. Especially before you talk about this one right here on our meeting notes. I’m just going to randomly throw things at you. In a business, as a business owner, is it possible to do it with balance? Just listen to the tone of voice. It’s physically impossible, so I’m going to throw a couple of things out there, then throw it back to Kerri, then I’ll throw a couple other things. First, I want everybody to understand that the phrase “9 to 5” was made up during the Industrial Revolution in 1905. The definition of the word ‘job’ in the Webster’s Dictionary was a temporary means of income until your business takes off. Let me repeat, for those that haven’t heard the two other podcasts from six months ago and a year and a half ago, the definition of the word “job” at one point in our country was a temporary means of income until your business takes off.
Because if we go back to say 1898, what jobs were there? Not very many outside of teachers and a couple of other things. Post office people, you were a farmer, you were a blacksmith, you were a pharmacist that you owned your own pharmacy, you were a leather worker. You get the idea. You owned something.9 to5,it’s a joke. 9 to 5 is a nothing. Kerri and I need to expressly share with you that we don’t work 9 to 5. I can vouch for my wife’s schedule. It starts in the five’s as most really busy executives start at the five’s. Maybe at the latest. She’s at something in busy at 6:15 AM. The old army phrase you get more done before 9:00 AM than the rest of the day. Is that true? I want to start the preface of this podcast on balance, before I start drinking my first beverage here on this beautiful Friday, but it’s not yet 5:00. Although it is scotch o’clock somewhere. It probably is scotch o’clock somewhere, but the reality is if I can express one thing on this podcast, 9 to 5 needs to be removed. If you’re an entrepreneur, leader, any kind of business owner, it probably already is removed from your vernacular. If you’re new to business or you’re new to management or you’re new to leadership and you ever say the phrase “9 to 5”, something’s not quite right. You work when you feel like working. You work when it’s appropriate. I want to say something that is so much more important. You don’t work when it’s appropriate. Kerri, would you please share what we did as a family yesterday on Thursday the whole day?
Prior to yesterday, which was Thursday, we spent the prior four days doing work. When I say work, I mean actually working at our desk, getting things done. When we do things, we do them in sporadic moments and sporadic time periods. We might get up at, as Ken says, 6:00, work three hours, take a break, do whatever, come back, work some more hours, take a break, and then come back. Sometimes it’s just work the entire day, depends on what the meetings may happen to be or the necessity, the need at the time. We do that and we work really hard and put the hours in different quantities and different days, mornings, afternoons and nights, sometimes all-nighters. The other day I got up at 3:30 because I needed to get some work done and got it done. Also, that Thursday, I could spend the entire day, again, the entire day with our senior who yesterday was her prom. It might not seem like a big deal, but what a blessing to think of it. I didn’t have to do anything that day on a Thursday. I didn’t have to register for paid time off. I didn’t have to tell someone I wasn’t going to be there. I made sure that everything I needed to get done got done so that I could go with her to get her nails done, hair done, makeup done, sit here, have pictures done. I have a bunch of kids over, their parents ever make them all feel like princes and princesses, and the parents feel spectacular. We had almost 50. We had 45 people here. Then spend the rest of the night taking more pictures and then just enjoying the people who stayed at our home.
Why? It’s a Thursday. Technically, we’re going back to balance. If we were supposed to have balance, that wouldn’t have happened because how dare I spend that much time in the personal realm of my life and not balance the day with work because it was a work day. Technically, Monday through Friday. Thursday falls into Monday through Friday. I guess the point is, as an entrepreneur, that’s the perk that you have. The perk you have is to create your hours to work for accomplishment, not hours to work and get things done that need to be done, not worry about how much time you put into something. I know you’ve probably may have heard this before, kids spell love T-I-M-E. You as a business owner, have the ability to work when they’re not around and sometimes it might be in the middle of the night. You do it when they’re not around, so that when they are around, you can give them that time, that love. I will never get prom back. Yesterday was the prom day. I didn’t set the day before. I made sure I was there and available and so was Ken, so were my mom and my dad who are entrepreneurs. We made it happen. We were there. We got to share in something that was absolutely spectacular, but that’s not just yesterday. That’s every day of our life because we are entrepreneurs. You’re an entrepreneur and you’re listening to this. You’re in control of your time. If you want to do emails that day, you do emails that day. If you’ve something that is more important, you are the boss. You know what is most important for that day. It might be you’ve got a kid who’s sick or might be a spouse that has some other issues going on that you need to be with that person or you might just need your own time. You realize there’s something that you need to do with your company, it needs to go in another direction, you spend the time there. You are in control. You’re not judged and guided by hours because there is no balance. It’s what’s right and what needs to be done. Sometimes, actually most of the time, your family.
What’s funny is what Carrie just said. I just added a little nugget on my meeting notes for this podcast and I wrote the little phrase “important versus urgent”. In business, it’s almost seemingly like everything is urgent. It is the battle of the urgent. I’m staring at a sign that says let me drop everything and work on your problem. Why? Because someone just Skyped me their problem, so now I have to drop everything I’m working on, everything I’ve scheduled. Then the sign just to the right of that is you don’t have to be crazy to work here. We’ll train you. These are kind of sarcastic clichés, but we’ve gone through years of our life trying to buy into this BS phrase of balance of work-life balance and we’re trying to get everything scheduled and proper. What we’ve come up with is that 9 to 5 and the word balance is pure bullpucky. It’s not real. It’s never been real historically.
If you go back, think about it. You really think people in the late 1800s had a work-life balance. Do you think a farmer has balance? We live in farm country. I see farmers toiling and plowing their fields at 2:00 AM. When the weather is right, they harvest. They don’t harvest around balance. They aren’t going to look up at God and say, “God, don’t make it rain right now. I can only harvest 9 to 5.” No. When you’re a farmer, you harvest when it’s time to harvest. Well, guess what? You know what you are as a business owner? You are a farmer. You plant seeds. It’s called marketing and advertising and you harvest when the seeds mature. You don’t harvest 9 to 5.I remember years and years ago, I was third party mentored by a guy named Brad. Brad introduced me to a term called ATP. The brain runs on ATP. The only time you can create a new brain cell is during a period of fasting. The energy that the actual brain sucks on to do its duty is ATP. You run out of ATP. You could only replenish ATP during sleep or great periods of fasting, especially a water fasting. I say all of that to say he knew how his body was wired and he did life in 30-day sprints. He would work from 7:00 AM to midnight for 30 days and then he would take five days in a row off. The first day he would watch five movies back to back with his spouse and they would literally camp out. It could be a Thursday. It could be a Sunday. He was a business owner, so it wasn’t a weekend. Whatever was the 31st day, they watched five movies in a row together and then there was four more days coming up. Two days they would go play. They would go do an overnight somewhere on some other city. Then two days they’d go back home and have a staycation. Then they would attack for 30 days in a row, sometimes sixteen-hour days, sometimes five-hour days, but they would attack and they are some of the most successful people I know.
ATP, it’s real. Study it. You’re an entrepreneur. You are not a robot. 9 to 5 isn’t real. It’s bullpucky. My personal schedule is somewhere between 5:45 and 7:15. I am at my desk. I’ve already had coffee. I’ve already walked my property looking. Did any new leaves grow on any new trees? Every day, I look at all my trees from the lake side to the street side. I’m a tree fanatic. That’s my thing. It’s my ritual. Every day I wake up, I thank God I’m breathing and I go grab my coffee and I walk the property for fifteen, twenty minutes. I’m at my desk and I’m jamming and I’m slamming, I’m not looking at the clock. Then I hit a period of time where I cannot look at the computer for another second, meaning I’m probably out of ATP. Then I grab something, water or coffee, and then I go attack again. I do this phonetically until about noon and I call that my work hard period. From noon to 6:00, I work softly, meaning that Kerri brought something to my attention. I’m like, “That’s exactly how I work.” I do the things that I can truly focus on in the early morning, and then in the afternoon I do very soft things that don’t need as much ATP, they don’t need as much focus. At this point of the day I kind of turned to mush. Anything my kids ask for when they come into my office, I say, “Okay.” I’m a mush. Anyway, that’s my schedule. The 9 to 5, it’s not real. I really beg of you to remove the phrase of time outside of scheduling proper meetings and assessment time for business. I’m going to flip this back to the beautiful Kerri.
Going back to stop the guilt. You’re not going to find balance. There is no such thing as balance. We just don’t have it. If we had balance, all of our diet should be perfect and we wouldn’t need vitamins. It is what it is. The worst thing is when you hear just the guilt of I didn’t give my kids enough attention or I didn’t give my spouse enough attention. You can’t. It’s not going to be perfect in a day. It never will be. The whole thing is, is it perfect? Maybe in the month, in the year. You can only do so much, but you have to get certain things done that when you are doing whatever task is at hand, whether it’s personal, whether it’s at work, with your spouse, professionally, that when you’re in it, be in it. Do that right. Concentrate on what you’re doing, get it done, so then when you go to the next task or if you’re with the kids, you are there. You’re not thinking about something else. You’re there. You’re in it. You’re giving them all your attention. That way, when you’re not doing the things you would really love to do, like maybe watch your kid’s volleyball game. If you can’t be there, they know that when you are there, you’re in it, and when you’re not there, it’s for a reason. Share that with your family. Share that with your work. Again, this is an entrepreneur audience, so you have the ability to control your life. Most importantly, don’t feel guilty about the decisions you make because you’re making them for the right reasons. Enjoy. When you take that day off, you earned it. Your family needs it, so have a great time doing it.
I want to make one more comment then ask Kerri if she agrees and can vouch for this. When our children were between zero and ten, we had so many things, projects and businesses cooking. We had so many S curves going. We traveled. I can’t think how many school events and things we did not go to and how many babysitters watched our kids when we were not even in the state of Illinois. Do they remember any of that today?
They remembered that we traveled, but I guess the question really should be did it hurt them? The answer is no. Our kids are thriving. Our kids, they respect us. They talk with us. We have a twenty, eighteen, sixteen, and ten-year old. Not only they’re respectful, they’re resourceful, they’re excelling at whatever they’re looking to do and they share it with us. Our oldest just applied for two internships. She got both of them. She chose the one that she wanted. She is so excited and you know what? She did an internship with our company and she conversed with us. How many twenty-year-olds actually counsel with their parents? Our twenty-year-old said, “Mom, Dad, I’d like to do an internship so I’m not under your wing. I’d like to learn from someone else so that I have more to offer when I do come to work with you.” She didn’t take anything for granted. She sees that hard work, not just hard work, smart work is important and that her intellect and her judgment are valued by her parents.
Here’s my final nugget. The easiest way to make the shift away from guilt because there is daddy guilt, there is mommy guilt, there is entrepreneur guilt and it’s tough. The best way to look at it is this, currently, most people look at their week as a calendar with time on the clock. It’s unfortunate that we were embedded with the Day-Timer. Somebody famously coined the perfect Day-Timer. The point is we got ingrained as young business owners to picture the week in vertical days with times down the left side, starting at nine-ish, ending at five-ish, Saturday and Sunday’s time off. It’s almost like a union mentality. It’s quite frankly, disgusting. Here’s the shift. It’s easy and Kerri and I live it to the core. We are task, not time-oriented. We start tasks, sometimes we start them on a Saturday. I was in a hotel type place in Chicago. I did a four-and-a-half-hour task. It would’ve took me twelve hours Monday, Tuesday because to do that task, I would’ve had to volley and be interrupted by a 150 Skypes, emails, texts and phone calls. It would have taken me two days to do that task and what I got done from a hotel lobby on a Saturday in four and a half hours. I’m task-oriented. I am not time-oriented. My guess is a great percentage of people listening to this that actually think they’re being successful because they’re putting in time. As Bill Gates said years ago, “If you can’t get something massive done in 40 hours a week, you’re doing it wrong.”
He didn’t say 9 to 5. He didn’t say Monday through Friday. You could do Saturday and Sunday, sixteen-hour days, 32 hours, plus eight hours on Monday, and have four days off. Don’t think for a second Jobs and Gates and guys like that didn’t do things like that. Kerri and I spent some time with the billionaire Jimmy John from the Jimmy John’s franchise. He takes three weeks off at a time with 2,800 stores. You can. Guess what? No, no. He was doing that when he was 26 years old. It took him time to replenish and that’s his thing. That’s his MO. How did he get so successful? Taking three weeks off, I think, four or five times a year as his own business owner. Nobody in this company looked at him with negativity. That was his thing. He was out of ATP, right? That’s his gig. That guy is incredibly successful. He sung at $70 million yacht so he can buy his $200 million Feadship. It obviously works for him. Don’t have guilt when you need to go watch your child wrestle or play volleyball or go on an extended vacation. You’re a business owner. That’s what you get to do because you’re accomplishing more tasks than the average job mentality person. That’s not a negative statement.
If you want to have a glass of wine at four in the afternoon on a Friday, go for it or a maple-flavored bourbon-based drink. Because chances are, you’re probably already up at 6:00 AM and your family is going to enjoy your time.
There’s no such thing as balance in life.