Recently I have been asked about my thoughts on work/life balance, and how I approach running a family business w/ 3 teenage boys from home, while homeschooling and still make time to live a life and to be a family.
First of all, I’m not sure balance is the word I would choose……it’s more like work/life flow. When someone mentions work/life balance to me, I picture an overscheduled, stressed person trying to balance multiple plates on the end of two long sticks, while balancing on a tightrope…….Not, what I want my life to look like…….. nor does it sound like a recipe for success. The problem with the concept of balancing work and life implies that there is a difference between work and life, which, for entrepreneurs, is rarely true. Like most entrepreneurs I approach my life, and my work, my company as a part of me, a part of my family, an offspring of our creative collaboration. I prefer to use the term “work/life flow”. Like the flow of an ocean, sometimes there are highs and lows, swells and troughs….……. but the current always continues to flow. Flowing from one activity into another, and each is a part of the other.
I achieve work/life flow through having an amazing work ethic and teaching my sons the same. There is no time limit on my job, it is measured in completion of the job and/or task. My day is full of life, work, family, house, car, dog, friends, exercise and everything that goes with a busy family and growing company. A perfect example of work/life flow is to take a look at the quintessential entrepreneur……….The Farmer. A Farmer works from sun up to sun down, includes his/her family in every aspect of running the family business. It’s the way of life of a farmer and it is the life force that inspires him/her and provides for the family.
Our family and our family business is set up with the same mindset that the Farmer lives by. My sons and I work together to accomplish taking care of our business, taking care of each other and taking care of our home……….we may not be milking cows at sunrise, but we have the same principles and work ethic that so many family businesses have instilled not only in their business, but also for their children and household.
Teamwork is an important component in our lives. Chores or delegation of duties are given to every family member and everyone in the company. There are jobs to accomplish and each person is held accountable for his or her responsibilities. Like the farming family, help is given when needed. We are a team working together for a common goal. For example, if there are a lot of online orders that need to be shipped out on a particular morning and Ayden has track practice, George and I pitch in to assist. Luke is in charge of inventory, which means when we receive product, it’s his job to verify shipments, move product into our warehouse, organize it and take inventory. It is a very labor-intensive process and most the time, Ayden or I will step in and assist Luke. We live with the belief that in order for our company, our family to reach our goals, we work as a team, so everything flows.
As any good coach knows, communication is a huge part in making sure everything flows. We have lots of conversations about feelings………yes, teenage boys have feelings. When the conversation turns to any conflicts, we share and make adjustments as necessary. Most importantly, everyone is heard. Respect and validation is so important in making a team work, a family that is in sync and a business that will continue to grow on the path we have laid out.
It is all a flow, a work/life flow. There are big waves and we get knocked down but we always help each other get back up to ride the next swell. Through it all we make sure everything flows. Yes it does require balance………but don’t surfers have to balance on a surfboard in the ocean that is flowing to accomplish the goal of a good ride?