They intoxicate themselves with work so they won’t see how they really are. —Aldous Huxley
When I first started GroundFloor Media in my basement in April 2001, I am fairly confident that I had absolutely no idea what it meant to have balance in my life. I was newly married, expecting our first child and had just received news that the company I had moved to Colorado to work for was closing its doors. I opened the agency (I use this term very loosely, as I was pretty much the janitor, the CPA and the PR account manager) the next day knowing that in the midst of the dot-com bust, I needed to create a professional opportunity and not wait for something to come my way. The funny thing was that although my bout as an entrepreneur began out of quiet desperation, I loved every minute of it. I had caught the proverbial entrepreneurial bug and I was sick.
To some of my friends and nearly all of my family, I quickly became a work-a-holic. To others, I was simply living the life of an entrepreneur. It has been said “that those who are passionate about what they do, do it to extremes.”
If you haven’t read The E-Myth, it is a must-read for any entrepreneur. The author, Michael Gerber, describes the tipping point as this, “It could have been anything; it doesn’t matter what. But one day, for apparently no reason, you were suddenly stricken with an Entrepreneurial Seizure. And from that day on your life was never to be the same.”
I couldn’t agree more. I also have to say that there is a point that is crossed in which the thing you are most passionate about becomes an addiction. Workaholism has become embedded in our culture. There are some that learn to balance and create space for the things they are most passionate about – be it their family, friends, charity work or travel. It took me a long, long time to realize that I was not solely responsible for the success and failure of the agency – that the amount of hours worked was not a direct correlation to the growth of the agency. To be brutally honest, I only recently allowed myself to work toward this ‘work/life blend’ because of the team I was surrounded by at GroundFloor Media. As a senior-level bunch, we all have to juggle family and work life. We termed our struggle as the ‘work/life blend’ because balance was simply out of the question. The bottom line is that I trusted the team was suffering from a similar type of ‘seizure’ and that we would all hold each other up as a group. It didn’t hurt that we gravitate toward working with some pretty amazing client partners that hold similar values.
Honestly, I think this point of achieving a ‘work/life blend’ is different for each business and ultimately that the life of an entrepreneur will always be challenging. For me, I always appear to be one step away from having a life where work isn’t always in the back of my mind. I know this isn’t ideal, but it’s difficult not to be working on something that you want to see grow and succeed. I compare it – in the most simple terms – to parenthood.
What do you do to handle work/life balance? Is there balance in your life? Is there a blend in your life? What techniques do you find useful for adding more balance or blending all of the important components of your life?