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Tinley is more than just an athlete; he is also a successful entrepreneur. He co-founded a company that produced athletic clothing—Tinley Performance Wear. He and his partners built business over 8 years, reaching about $10 million in sales. In 1992, they sold company to Reebok. But even more than just being a triathlete and a wealthy businessman, Tinley is also appreciated as a writer, traveler, father, and husband. As productive as he is in many areas of life, he has not lost sight of balance he needs.
Tinley explains work-life balance he maintained over his 20-year career as an athlete, husband, father, and entrepreneur: “A lot of people have this image of self-management, that it means you have to drive yourself and force yourself to get things done without somebody looking over your shoulder. It is actually quite opposite: You have to force yourself to have balance in your life and be efficient in all things you do.”
He has recognized importance of what he calls a “precarious balance between preparation, competition, professionalism, support systems, and world of family, friends, and paying rent.” He has not lost sight of fact that among best things in life are family, friends, and a quiet run in park.
This is kind of balance that John Chambers, CEO of Cisco Systems has also achieved. An interviewer, asked, “What would you like to have accomplished and what’s next after Cisco?”
“The most important thing to me is my family, and that doesn’t change. My wife of 25 years is a perfect balance for me. When I get down, which I occasionally do, she brings me up, and on rare occasions if I get a little bit too confident she brings me back down to earth too.”
“I’ve got two kids I’m tremendously proud of and they are my life; so my family is first, second, and third in terms of my priorities. And when I’m at home, as my wife reminds me when I walk in door, I’m not CEO anymore. So at home, I’m like anybody else. Carrying out garbage, changing light bulbs, and so on.”
Chambers illustrates how a proper balance between one’s executive performance and other dimensions of life can contribute to both personal fulfillment and business success. An awareness of need for balance has prompted many executives to make some crucial decisions in their day-to-day business and personal life that protected them from failure so they could just become an “enduring survivor.”
But, no doubt, you want more from life than just maintaining a mere survivor level. You want to excel as an executive leader, and also thrive, not merely survive, in your personal life. So beyond awareness that comes from self-assessment and evaluation of your priorities, there are additional steps to take in order to reach top level of having all that life can offer.
Forty-year-old Mark Holland is founder of a thriving company, Ascend HR Solutions. At beginning of every workweek he pulls out a message that reads: “Wendi is most important person in my life. My family comes before work and other activities. I live my religion. I provide financial security for my family. Our home is a retreat from challenges of world. I have a positive attitude, looking for and developing strength in others. I help people develop and grow, including, when appropriate, holding them accountable. The outdoors provide a needed sanctuary and retreat for me.”
Holland wrote this personal mission statement in 1998 following a major crisis in his business. That year firm lost $800,000, which caused significant problems in his partnership. Holland experienced so much stress that he lost nearly 20 pounds.
Then a business seminar inspired him to write down his life mission statement. Holland admits that seminar gave him “a good smack upside head.” He resolved to never again sacrifice his family and health for sake of his business.
Over a two-year period, Holland’s personal mission statement grew into a life plan for himself and his wife. “We asked, ‘What are important things? What do we want to have happen before we die?’” Now they have a 30-year planned life itinerary on a spreadsheet that covers college savings, retirement, vacations, exercise regiments, relating to God and spiritual activities, work goals, personal growth, and personal relationships.
Holland constantly improved himself by regularly pursuing clear, written personal goals and life motto. Writing down your personal goals and a life motto not only helps you clarify kind of balance you want to achieve, but also gives you a written reference to check week by week. Many people refine their goals and motto over several year’s time.
Mark Holland and his wife, Wendi take long walks together at least twice a week with their two-year-old daughter on Mark’s shoulders and their five-month-old son snuggled in Wendi’s front pack. Once a month, on one of those walks, they discuss and review their life plan thoroughly. “The plan is dynamic—it changes. It’s been really good for getting our relationship and our lives back to where they needed to be,” Holland says.
This practice of regularly reviewing their life plan indicates that Holland progressed to highest level of functioning under balancing ones managerial life. At this top level, you constantly implement action plans to improve balance of all five dimensions of your life.
Paul N. Howell, CEO of Howell Corporation, named an additional crucial characteristic of a successfully balanced entrepreneurial executive: “The willingness and demonstrated ability to conduct him—or herself—on a high moral and ethical level in both business and personal life. Without it, success is uncertain and short lived.”
At highest level, people who interact with you can see sterling qualities of your servant leadership. Your executive actions are guided by clear plans that continually balance and rebalance all dimensions of successful living: 1. Executive Success: Servant leadership, management skills, and career development. 2. Loving Relationships: Serving family, friends, and needy. 3. Healthy Lifestyle: Regular exercise, good diet, and regular medical care. 4. Emotional Well-being: Stress management, recreation, and psychological stability. 5. Spiritual Maturity: Ethical character, commitment to ultimate values, peace with God, and devoting oneself to life’s greatest spiritual priorities.
At this level, you regularly “retreat” from your usual executive responsibilities to rethink your personal mission, vision, and action plans. You deliberately make a continual concerted effort to maintain delicate balance you need for a fulfilling life.
“Balance Your Managerial Life” was excerpted from There’s Room at Top: 33 Dynamics for Managerial Excellence, 2004, pages 44-51.
© Copyright 2004, by Uxbridge Publishing Ltd. Co. All rights reserved.
Matthew Rekers, M.B.A., is the President and CEO of 33Dynamics LLC. He previously served as the President and COO of Rekers and Company LLC. Mr. Rekers earned his B.S. in Business Administration, cum laude, from the University of South Carolina with a major in accounting, and his M.B.A. degree from Winthrop University. He is a business consultant for 33Dynamics Consulting LLC. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit our website at www.33dynamics.com.