It may be time to redesign your life the way you’ve always wanted it to be rather than living a life someone else has chosen for you. – George Bernard Shaw
Imagine this: you’ve heard all about this amazing restaurant in town, so you decide to take your family. When you arrive, you find out the only thing they have on the menu is prime rib – literally. There is no salad bar, no mouthwatering side dishes, no dessert and definitely nothing on the kids menu for your little ones. Now, it might seem interesting at first, or a great novelty place to take a client, but you probably aren’t going to go back often.
Sadly, too many leaders advertise themselves as an amazing restaurant with a full menu and culinary experience, but, when you get to know them, you find out they only serve prime rib. All they have is that one thing. That one thing may be amazing, but very soon they become uninteresting and uninspiring. They lack the ability to interact with people and engage around anything else because they only know or care about their thing.
In my own leadership, my passion is jobs. I’m passionate about growing people and community, but in social situations I have to guard against talking only about those things. If I’m at dinner and a friend asks: “What’s new with you?” I naturally want to respond with, “Let me tell you about the latest jobs announcement in Southwest Michigan!” But, outside of my work day, most people don’t really care about that; they care more about what’s going on with me – or you – as a person.
A little while back, I spoke with a friend who had recently visited San Diego. One of my favorite things about San Diego – and something he noticed as well – is when you ask the people who live there what they do, they typically respond by saying something like: “I surf, or I run, or I’m a skateboarder. I am a triathlete or I sail.” Their first inclination is NOT to tell you about their job, like many of us do. Why? Because San Diego is a community that really embraces and values lifestyle over the title you have from your day job.
Now, I really LOVE my job. It gives me incredible energy and allows me to work with my best friends every day. But, I also have to remember that if I want to be a complete person, I can’t just eat prime rib. And, if I want to be of value to other people, I have to serve something more than just prime rib.
As leaders, we have to embrace the idea that it is selfish of us to focus exclusively on one area of our lives. By doing so, we are minimizing our lifespan, our contribution to the world and our ability to achieve happiness. More importantly, being “one note” makes us really uninteresting to be around. Part of the belief that leadership is lonely is because many leaders forget how to interact or engage outside of work. As leaders, we can’t forget to lead well in our lives – with family, friends and passions – beyond our office walls.
Question: Are you becoming more or less interesting as a leader? Are you devoting all of your resources to your work or living a balanced life?