By Scott Bushkie
My family is about to head to Arizona for spring break, and I’m working hard to ensure it will be a true family vacation. Too often, I hear from business owners who “vacation” with their family, only to stay back in the hotel glued to a computer or phone while their spouse and kids have fun without them.
But working harder isn’t necessarily a good thing, at least not long-term. By setting boundaries and finding the right work-life balance, I’m able to bring more energy and focus to my work. It makes me a better leader to my employees and a better advisor to my clients.
Setting boundaries takes discipline, though. I have a colleague in Arizona who sits on the board of the International Business Brokers Association with me. When she heard I was going to be in the area, she asked me to meet with her state board to update them on developments in the organization.
In past years, I would have said yes right away because it would have been good for business and good for the association. But when I considered my priorities, I recognized the need to set better boundaries.
I’ve come to this conclusion thanks to a leadership course I’ve been taking through Initiative One. I recognize that as business owners, so much of what we do is reactionary. We react to vendors, employees, and customers and at the end of a long, stressful day, what did we really get done?
By setting boundaries, I’m making more deliberate decisions about work and the things I value. So instead of saying yes, I’m going to call this colleague back and tell her I want to focus on my family. I’ll offer to visit her board on a separate trip or speak to them via teleconference instead.
In the end, this decision benefits not only my family, but it’s the right choice for my business too. Burnout is one of the leading reasons people sell their business, second only to retirement. And I can tell you with assurances, business owners who are burned out don’t get the same value as those who go out strong, with gas left in the tank.
Taking proactive steps to prevent burnout benefits my company today and in the future. It’s the right thing to do, for my personal values and my business value.
The same goes for my employees. By actively encouraging them to set boundaries and find balance, I’m creating space for them to be energized and focused when they are here in the office. There are crunch times in any business deal when we need to be available after hours, but a 24/7 connection to work shouldn’t be the expectation or norm.