Not long ago I read a LinkedIn post from a connection of mine who was detailing what he believed it takes to “succeed in business”. His post was short and to the point, but according to this one individual if you want to find business success, you better be willing to do some of the following:
· Long days and late nights
· Missing out on family dinners
· Absence at kids’ sporting events, recitals and concerts
· Sleep deprivation
And the list went on.
Truthfully, this sounds much like a post I would have written a number of years ago as I truly believed that to accomplish my business growth and career objectives these things would be commonplace. Additionally, if I had written a post like this back then, I would have also chalked up all of these things to sacrifice, one of the many lies I told myself.
The word sacrifice is a word that carries a lot of weight and despite its frequent use, it is most often used to describe things that are mere inconveniences. I also find that the word is often used incorrectly or better yet, with only one perspective in mind and I believe this is the case in the aforementioned LinkedIn post and how I used to think.
One of the definitions of the word sacrifice is “an act of giving up something valued for the sake of something else regarded as more important or worthy.”
There is no doubt that sleep, being present with our kids and time with the family are valuable things. In the case of the word here, the author of the post is, by definition, stating that at times his professional success and business goals are indeed more important than his sleep and relationships. Whether that is true or false however is not the point.
What is missing from this perspective of sacrifice is that of the other side . . . our families. In my days of chasing what I deemed as business success, I was missing out and taking time away from cultivating my relationships. I was consciously putting my professional interests ahead of my time, presence, and relationships with my family and I did it without any discussion on what sacrifices they were willing to make.
I made the choice for them, I made them sacrifice, which in looking back, is actually quite selfish.
While I have no issue with one’s desire for professional success. Anyone I ever spoke to wants to be successful in what we do to make a living. However, to make decisions for our loved ones, without any consideration is putting our wants and desires before theirs and demonstrating what we deem as most valuable.
We owe it to our families and the closest of our relationships to see what they are willing to do to help us achieve our goals. What are they ok with? When I mentioned this to a colleague, he replied, how do you know? The answer is quite simple, you ask!
Do our families place more importance and worth on our professional growth and business success than their time and relationship with us? If they do not, it does not mean that they are not supportive, it just means that we have to be more creative. We have to establish work-life boundaries so we do not steal our time away from them. We may have to make some hard decisions on our growth or even extend the time horizon to reach certain goals and objectives. If we do not take this step then we can no longer claim the badge of sacrifice and it would be better for us to be honest and come to terms with the fact that we are indeed just being selfish.
Based on many conversations that I’ve had with colleagues, I realize there are so many who have not taken the time to look at the cost we are asking others to make in chasing our pursuits. I hope that this changes, as it is the very least we can do to show what we value most.