When I graduated high school and started college, the only thing I could think of was getting the best grades I could in my first semester. I remember that pursuing excellence included working endlessly, day in and day out, with my nose to the grindstone. By the time I got to my first professional job, I had found myself bouncing between two extremes of working extremely hard to get ahead and equally as hard to balance that with personal time. In retrospect, I attempted to achieve a work-life balance by working fourteen hours a day and trying to squeeze fourteen hours of “playtime” into a couple of hours each day. This behavior was not sustainable and did not produce the desired balance.
This week, my guest on getagoodstart.com’s podcast touches on this popular subject of the seemingly elusive work-life balance. We can fill pages and pages discussing this subject, but I would rather have you listen to the podcast, his thoughts and then come back here and read how we can tie it all together so you can get a good start.
Learning While Leading
I was managing an extensive project when I hired a Summer intern fresh out of college. He was young, inexperienced, and had charisma. He did his job well, was an asset to the team, and strived to understand his place in the corporate world. I learned a lot from managing him because he challenged me with his questions about the corporate world and its politics.
He worked on my team for several years, and I valued his talent as a writer and communicator very much. Despite his success, he never seemed to “fit” into the corporate structure. It was clear that this career path was not a passion of his. He may have been able to stomach the mundane aspects of the world we worked in, but he was determined to find the right path. Eventually, he discovered that path and was courageous enough to follow it.
The Road Less Traveled
William found his calling, and on a recent visit with him, it was clear his career choice suits him. When someone truly enjoys what they do, you can see it on their face. William found balance in serving others through teaching and devoting himself to the Benedictine community of monks. The day William told me he was resigning to join St. Mary’s Abbey, I thought he was joking. Who goes off to become a monk now or days?
Afterward, I had the highest respect for the choice he made and the journey on which he was embarking. He made a selfless decision that included sacrifice but would lead him to personal fulfillment. He had found the place in which he belonged. I have so much respect for anyone who takes the road less traveled because it is the right thing. Many of us take the easier path because it is the expected thing.
The Podcast Interview
Please, enjoy the video interview or audio podcast below. Listen to Brother William’s thoughts and insights and then come back and read this week’s takeaways and action items.
Key Points of Action
The key takeaways from this week’s podcast are rather simplistic but can profoundly affect your decision-making. Typically, I would discuss different actions for a student, new or veteran career professional. This week, the steps to help you get a good start can be universal. Every situation can be different, yet a good start can begin with these key points of action from my interview with William:
- He stated, “…how you handle the little things can determine an overall experience.” The takeaway action for everyone, I believe, is patience. Let others finish their sentence, and then their thought. Give yourself time to think before responding. It can be the difference between making an enemy or growing a team. It can be a good start to increasing your professional network.
- Considering the lifestyle you want to have may help you determine the career path you follow. In my experience, I find few, if any, people have asked themselves what career will provide them the lifestyle they desire. Most likely because everyone feels they can fit their lifestyle into the career they choose. Expecting lots of time off during the holidays is seldom the reality if your career path involves retail sales. Similar to what Professor Reuter said last week, “Consider what you want to be, not what you want to do.” Consider what you want your lifestyle to be, and start a new path towards it.
- Anger seldom assists us in achieving a good start to anything. When you are angry at someone or something, replace those thoughts with ones of gratitude. It is impossible to be angry and grateful at the same time. Also, I read an article recently about changing your vocabulary slightly, replacing “sorry” with “thank you.” For example, when you are late to meet someone, do not say you are sorry for being late; thank them for waiting.
A good start can begin with small things. Patience, lifestyle, and gratitude are all basic things. Yet, in the speedy world of today, we often forget how they can have a cumulative impact on our lives and careers. If we can squeeze anything good, we should have learned from this past year to get an excellent start to 2021. I believe it is to slow down.
Listen more, thank more, and think about how you want people to feel about who you are. It can be a good start to a balanced life.