Recently I have been having a lot of conversations with my clients about work-life balance and the need for boundaries. I am always sympathetic to their need to live a fuller life. I also try to remind them that they chose the path of a business entrepreneur and/or CEO. By its nature, this role is more demanding than the average work situation.
There is a substantial difference between being an employer and an employee. When you run a company the typical work boundaries do not apply. You will often have to work late or show up early. There will be many problems or decisions only you can make, and they rarely happen within the confines of a 40-hour work week. This is why it’s important to embrace your leadership responsibilities because the position will require more time and effort than expected.
I have always liked the saying, “to whom much is given, much should be expected.” I would restate it to make a different point, “to those who expect much, major effort is required.” Some people hit the lottery or find unique shortcuts to financial and business success, but their numbers are small. We like to read about them and fantasize that our own lives will follow a similar track. The truth is that this probably won’t happen to you. If you opt to pursue business leadership and the potential rewards this implies, then you will need to “suck it up” and work harder not just smarter than your competition. There will be early mornings, late nights, unexpected travel, missed family events, and demanding clients who don’t care about your need for work-life balance.
There is a reason only more than 4% of American families make over $200,000 per year and less than 1% exceed $500,000 per year. If you focus solely on small business owners, the numbers are even more telling as only about 1.4% of them make more than $200,000 per year. I am not quoting these percentages to say everyone else is lazy because I know many hard-working people who struggle to make ends meet. I am using these numbers to show you how hard it is to climb the economic ladder in our society. Yes, some people are born into wealth and have it easier. However, if you factor their numbers into this data, then this further illustrates the point.
Please do not interpret these thoughts as a justification for having no work-life balance whatsoever. There is a point of diminishing returns where more effort won’t equate to better outcomes. In life there are always trade-offs due to conflicting priorities. You need to make sure you are making these decisions with your eyes wide open.