Family Vs Career: Striking the Balance

A businessman was at the pier of a small coastal fishing village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the boat were several large tuna. The businessman complimented the fisherman on the quality of his fish and asked how long it to to catch them. The fisherman replied, “only a little while”. The businessman asked why he didn’t stay out longer and catch more fish and the fisherman replied that he had enough to supply his family’s immediate needs.

The businessman then asked, “what do you do with the rest of your time?” The fisherman said, “I play with my children, take siesta with my wife, and stroll into the village each evening where I play with my friends. I have a full and busy life”. The businessman smiled, “I have MBA – that is degree in business administration – and I could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds buy a bigger boat. With the proceeds from the bigger boat, you could buy several boats and eventually you would have a fleet. Then instead of selling your catch to a middleman, you would sell directly to the processor eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would, ofcourse, need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to city where you would run your entreprise. 

So, the fisherman now asked, “but how long will all this take?” The business replied, “fifteen to twenty years.” “But what then?” asked the fisherman.  The businessman laughed, “That is the best part. When the time is right you sell your stock to the public and you become very rich. You would make millions”. “Millions? But then what?” asked the fisherman. “Then you would retire, move to a small coastal fishing village where you could sleep late, fish a little, play with your children, take siesta with your wife and stroll to the village in the evening where you could play with your friend.” With just the hint of a twinkle in his eye, the fisherman said, “why should I go through this process since I am already doing that right now?”.

This may sound like a fairy tale but I want you to read that story again and put yourself in place of the businessman. Too often those of us that are heavily involved in the business world are in danger of loosing out on our most important asset – family.  I once pointed out the importance of developing family relationship in one of my previous write-ups. I will like to point out one or two things again today. One thing we need to constantly remind ourselves is that when it comes to it, relationships are more important to us than anything else. When we are faced with challenges on the way, our family and friends are those that will be there to cheer us up.

No matter how successful you may be, if you loose your family on the way, you are not far from failure. This applies to you even if you are the most powerful man on earth as long as you do not have no time for your family or friends. Imagine yourself just coming from a business trip, you had just sealed that business deal, and you say to your son, “do you fancy going to the cinema this weekend?” and he replied, “do you mind if we don’t, Dad – I said I would go out with some friends”. How would you feel? Remember that you constantly tell yourself that you are doing everything for your family…But what is the use of being successful if you loose your family?

While work is very important, you would definitely crave for success in the area of relationships when you grow older. So, watch it. Don’t allow your family to leave before you realise it. Start today to strike a balance. While you focus on building your career or expanding that business, set time aside to build the relationships that are important to you. You can start by setting aside a day out of the week which you will invest into the relationships that matter to you. Start with your family and then extend it to your friends. See this as a business appointment. If possible, switch off your phone throughout the time you would be with your family. What are you waiting for? Take out your diary and fix the appointment now…