Leadership Lesson: Your family is the priority no matter what you do.

ImageI have the tendency to be a workaholic. The truth be known, I like to work. I like to accomplish things. I like to get things done. I’m willing to devote the time needed to get something done right and produce excellent results.  I’ve been this way my whole life. So, when I was in the Army as a young man, I would arrive to work early and leave for home late. That meant there were many days when my young children might not see me because I was out of the house before they were up and I returned after they went to bed. Needless to say, that was not very good for our home life. It’s difficult to invest in and influence your children, when you’re not there.

I had a boss once, Fred Stubbs, who was a very wise man.  He was a great family man. He had a wonderful wife, Ilene, and two beautiful teenage daughters, Bethany and Penny. One evening while I was working late, he surprised me and stopped by my office.  He asked me about work. I told him what was happening and what I was working on. Then as he was getting ready to leave he said to me, “John, the Army will be here in 20 years and you’re likely not to be in the Army, but what you do now will determine if your wife and children are with you or not.” Kaboom!! I got the message.  I began a process of change where I put my family first and my work second.

The results of me purposely putting family considerations before my work have been pretty significant. I am retired from the Army and my wife is still with me. We celebrated our thirty-first wedding anniversary two weeks ago.  My children grew up knowing that I loved them.  I got to enjoy putting them to bed most nights; reading to them and saying their prayers with them. Although our children are grown and out of the house, our family remains close. I’ve been truly blessed. As an aside, Fred and Ilene Stubbs recently celebrated their fifty-second wedding anniversary.

How about you? Remember in 20 years, you probably won’t be with the company you’re with now. You may make a lot of money working late, but will your family still be with you? It’s your decision.

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