When Greg walked into our first workshop, I was struck by how unhealthy he looked. He was at least thirty pounds overweight and seemed tired and worn down. When I interviewed Greg for our Business Builder program, he mentioned that at forty three, he was feeling burned out. Greg’s decision to get involved in our program was driven by his desire to gain control over his time. This is a common complaint of high performing entrepreneurs. Time management is a struggle for many entrepreneurs.
Greg was paying a price for his own success. When I asked Greg to describe a typical week, he sighed and described ten to twelve hour working days that left him depleted when he went home to his wife and young family. The zest and passion he felt for the business was eroding. He could not imagine himself as a successful and fulfilled entrepreneur fifteen or twenty years from now. Like many successful entrepreneurs, Greg was living the American dream. His family lived in an affluent neighborhood. His children went to private schools and his wife was a stay at home mom. Yet, Greg felt empty. His work was becoming a means to an end. It was a means of providing a quality life for his family. Somehow, Greg had lost sight of the importance of quality time in his own life.
My wife is a Marital and Sex Therapist. One of the things that I have learned from her is that the presenting problem is usually not the real issue. When individuals or couples come to see her, it is usually because they are having difficulties with intimacy. It may be characterized by low desire or feelings of resentment or alienation. The real problem is in the way in which they are communicating with each other. In Greg’s case, the presenting problem was the lack of quality time in his work. He was spending too much time doing tasks that he did not enjoy. Work had become a burden, rather than a source of enjoyment and pleasure. But the real problem was lack of quality time in his life.
There are five dimensions in our lives: work, family, community, self and our spiritual growth and development. Like many high achievers, Greg’s life was out of balance. He was focused on work. The lines that separate these dimensions of our lives are permeable. When one area of our lives is out of balance, it affects all of the other areas. Greg needed to get his life back into balance. In the first few months of our work together, we focused on time management.
Most people think that effective time management comes from learning the skills of managing their calendar. The key to effective time management is having clarity of intention. The word intention comes from the same root as aim or plan. Intention is an indication of what someone plans to do. The challenge with Greg was to help him understand that a healthy business was based upon a healthy life.
Together, we laid out a schedule for Greg that included four workouts a week, a conscious effort to lose weight through exercise and proper nutrition, a disciplined approach to spending quality time with his wife and children and involvement in community and church activities. Greg learned to delegate work that he did not enjoy or was not particularly good at, in order to focus on the doing things he enjoys. Greg loves to work with clients and spend time in planning the strategy for the business and working with clients. As Greg began to feel better and look better, his confidence soared. The zest and passion he once felt for his work returned. His work with a personal trainer toned his body.
Our work together toned his mind. He learned to focus on those areas of his work and life that are most rewarding. As a result, his revenue grew dramatically and his sense of fulfillment even more.