“Hey, Hon. I was just calling to let you know I won’t be home for dinner tonight.”
“Again? John, this is the third time this week. The kids miss you, I miss you, and I miss our family dinners.”
“I know you do, but look, Cheryl, I have a deadline on all this work I have to do, and if you want to keep living where you are and drive the cars you do, then I need to focus on what matters.”
“And what’s that, John? What is it that matters?”
“Cheryl, I don’t have time for this. I will talk to you later.” Click
“John? John? Argh, I see what matters to you, John. I just wish it was your family.”
Too often this is a familiar conversation had all over the world. Also, this doesn’t happen with just men; women are just as guilty. In today’s society, we tend to invest so much of our time and energy into what we think matters, and by doing so, we are destroying what matters most. We tend to get caught up in the idea that business, money, status, things, and so much more are what matter. Sadly, our values are placed on things that matter the least. Families are hurting, children are placed on the back burner, marriages are ending, partners are left alone, and the list could go on. Why? Because what we think matters most is what is destroying what matters most of all.
Please don’t get me wrong, I understand that business and leadership are hard. I understand that the higher your status in a company or organization, the more work and responsibility you have. I also understand that many would say that there just isn’t enough time in the day. To that, I say, where are your priorities. You see, time is what you choose it to be. As humans, we tend to complain about something, but refuse to change our lifestyle to fix what we are complaining about. Time may not be something we can physically control, but what we do with the time we are given is absolutely in our control. This is why the saying goes, “Make the most out of the time that you have been given.”
We need to determine what really matters in our lives. What holds the true worth and value? Money is fleeting. Status changes. Businesses fail. Yet this is where we put the majority of our time and energy, but at what cost? Now, if you are in your twenties and you have no other responsibilities outside of your career, then I encourage you to pour yourself into your work. However, do not create a box for yourself that is so tightly constructed, that when and if you choose to have a family someday, you are consumed so much by your career that your family suffers. To those of you in your mid to late thirties, what is your endgame? To those of you in your early to mid forties, what have you lost because of your misplaced value?
If you are in leadership, or in a position where a company or organization is demanding so much of your time that your family is suffering, it’s time to re-evaluate where you are, what you’re doing, and why you’re doing it. Here’s the bottom line. Your family needs you. Your children need you. Your wife or husband needs you. They are what should matter most. The relationships that you build with them are what matter most. If you find yourself missing family dinner time, put down the pen, close the laptop, grab your keys, shut off the lights, and GO HOME! There is nothing in your office or work life that could matter more than the people around your dinner table.
Work will always be there. Time with your family will not. It doesn’t matter if you are a father or a mother, your daughters and sons need to know they are important to you. They need to see you in their lives. They need to know that Mommy and Daddy made them a priority. However, it doesn’t stop there. Your marriage should matter to you. Your relationship with your spouse should matter to you. How your children see you treat your spouse will have a lasting impression on them. When they see you not caring to spend time or not making an effort to invest or grow in your relationship with your spouse, the only example they have to look at for their future relationships is yours.
So what matters most? Something that can be easily lost but regained, or something that can be easily lost and gone forever? Is it something that determines your wealth, power, and status, or it something that determines your worth, happiness, and joy? It’s time that we place our value in what matters most. If leadership is about one life influencing another, then the first lives that should be influenced are the ones around the dinner table. I hope you find yourself choosing to invest your time and energy in what really matters.