15Aug
Family First

Priorities

Recently I tweeted back and forth with a successful entrepreneur that I respect regarding whether or not people can love their business like a person. My immediate reaction was “no way”. Let me preface my comments by stating I’ve been very lucky in that I’ve always really enjoyed my work. Sure, there have been tough days and tough times, but overall I’ve always loved what I do. LOVED what I do. I’ve been extra fortunate to have had some modest financial success and the combination has been extremely rewarding in a variety of unanticipated ways. However, none of them compare to the love and enjoyment I get out of being a husband and father.

In fact, it’s not even close.

So why is it glamorized in the media when entrepreneurs have no life? If you are young and single, I can see where that makes some sense. I did it. Although I think it’s a good idea to still have a life outside of work when you are single, I don’t want to be too hypocritical when I didn’t. But when I’m hearing about family men/women who are consistently spending their lives on airplanes and such, I just don’t get it. Why is that cool? I’m afraid it’s because our priorities, at least when presented to the public, just aren’t straight sometimes.


Here is a list of some of the reasons why I think people put their business ahead of their family and friends:

Make A difference
Independence
Freedom
Money
Fame
Influence
No Barriers
Ego
Need For Variety
Social Acceptance
‘Easier’ To Work Instead Of Go Home
Self Esteem

Here is a list of some of the reasons why I think it is acceptable to chase these types of things ahead of your family:

..
..
..
..
..
..
..
..
..
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So quit traveling so much. Quit working so late. Spend more time with your spouse and/or kids. Have more fun. Work is always there. It is always waiting. There will never be a shortage of time you can spend working, but if you continue at that pace, I can promise you there will definitely be a shortage of time you’ll get to spend with your family. They’ll leave or grow up. And then the time will be gone. Forever. It’s a fleeting moment, especially when they are children. There is NOTHING you can do that replaces simple time with them at home. Trips to Disneyland and NYC are awesome. Want to know what is more awesome? Being their soccer coach. Hanging out at night doing homework. Or just being around and relaxing with them. Time is what your family wants. You being physically and emotionally present is what your family needs.

I’m particularly confused by some of my friends and peers that have had some financial success. They don’t have to travel a lot and work crazy hours. Yet they do. Constantly on airplanes, in meetings and away from their families all in the name of “changing the world”, “making a difference”, “trying to get ahead” and so forth and so on. Well, I call bullcrap.

It’s great you are investing in companies all over America. It’s awesome that you are at cool conferences and with famous people. Hey, you went to the Olympics! So neat. And check you out; you are on TV, or in a big blog post, or have a huge following of fans — that is so cool. These are the things your kids AREN’T saying if you are gone a lot. These are the things your kids AREN’T saying if you work too much. They don’t really care. And they shouldn’t. Your first and primary role, always and forever, is Spouse and Parent. Everything else comes after that. Or at least it should.

After all, it’s a lot more important to be a name in your own household instead of a household name.

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About Alex Lawrence

Alex has been a successful entrepreneur for 20+ years. His current venture Lendio ranks #34 on the Inc. 500 list. Alex earned a BS degree at the University of Utah and his MBA at Weber State University, where he is Vice Provost and Director of the Entrepreneurship Program. If you want to talk with Alex about business and entrepreneurship (or other questions), email him (alex AT startupflavor DOT com), or you can find him on Twitter @_AlexLawrence.
  • Devin Day

    I could not agree with you more. I have spent 10 years working in an Entrepreneurial mode and as I and my family gets older I am realizing the importance of your message.

  • Becky

    Thanks for this Alex. I am trying to find a balance in my life between my work, my blog, and my family. Unfortunately, there isn’t much balance right now and sadly I think that my family is taking the biggest hit!

    I need to read this every morning.

    • Alex Lawrence

      Hi Becky – so glad it was timely and helpful. I need to re-read it sometimes as well. Hope you are well….now quit reading this and go have some family time :)

    • alex_lawrence

      Your welcome, Becky. Glad it was timely for you!

  • http://www.MacStartup.com Kevin Cullis

    As my wife says, “If it’s not on my calendar, it does not get done.” Which includes scheduling family and friends time. If you don’t recharge, you’ll burn out.

    • Alex Lawrence

      Totally agree. Everything goes on my calendar, including family stuff, and then indeed – it happens!

    • alex_lawrence

      I’m the same – no calendar = it didn’t happen.

  • Jed Salmon

    Nailed it! Great topic, great article, great way to start off the week. Thanks for the reminder to put wife and kids first; I needed that.

    • Alex Lawrence

      Jed — you are the man. Glad this was timely and helpful. Especially with that new baby of yours!

    • alex_lawrence

      Thanks, Jed. You do a good job though bud. Keep up the good work.

  • http://www.danrichey.com/ Dan Richey

    Alex, GREAT post and GREAT message. This takes courage to come out and say this in the midst of 1,000’s and 1,000’s of articles about WORK WORK WORK WORK to get ahead and be successful. I needed this, as I have been married almost a year now and already find myself putting work, work, work ahead of my wife and being home with her after a normal work day.

    Good articles about life balance and spending time with family are few and far between. I’m glad this post resonates with me and that I recognize this before getting too far in to my career and business adventures.

    • Alex Lawrence

      Hey Dan — great to hear from you. I haven’t seen or talked to you in a bit. Thanks for commenting on the post. I’m glad you liked it and that it resonated with you. Now get home and hang out with that cute wife of yours :) Work hard though, you are young and that’s okay, but try to turn it off some so you can set a trail for the future of not letting work rule your life.

    • alex_lawrence

      DAN! Thanks man. Definitely a good topic for you to think about as you advance in your career. It’s a tough one. I’m sure you’ll get it right though.

  • http://www.jseverydayfashion.com/ J’s Everyday Fashion

    This article really hit home, thank you for sharing Alex! As a woman managing a 6-figure brand before the age of 30, this helped me think about my life decisions such as when I want to have kids. I’ve always known that God and family/friends are the most important part of life, but it can be hard not to get sucked in and say “yes” to every exciting work opportunity that comes up. There is something about one taste of success that makes you hungry for more and more, but I try to keep away from that mentality, especially since my basic needs are already being met. Thank you for the reminder!

    • alex_lawrence

      This is exactly why I wrote it. Thanks for the comment, makes me feel good that it had the impact I’d hoped it would.

  • http://www.facebook.com/paulsrossiter Paul Rossiter

    This article really is fantastic! I have definitely fallen into the trap of more work less family many times and if I am 100% honest it is often easier for me to work through the night than to change a diaper and hold a crying baby. It is scary how easy it is to justify it. I think if I can just accomplish this one more thing tonight, then everything will be worth it. I have a feeling this is an article I personally need to reread often. It was great to hear you speak at the Young Business Professionals meeting. Thanks Alex!

    • alex_lawrence

      Hi Paul — glad you liked it. It is kind of scary, isn’t it? Glad you made it here to the blog. It was nice to meet you. Keep in touch.

  • Brian Hyde

    Hypothetical question: If I were to tell you that I settled for a 9-5er type job with a mediocre salary and okay benefits so that I could spend more time with my family and ‘be there’ for my kids, what would your initial reaction be? Would you think, sweet that guy has it together? Or would you think, dang that guy is missing out on big opportunities and is wasting his potential?

    I would submit that most of us would default to the later response. We are programmed to think about success in family as secondary to success in profession. We think, ‘I just need to make good money for a few years then I’ll have time to play catch with my boys’! We all strive to drive a nicer car, wear tailored shirts, have fancy dinners out on the town, etc. but all of these things tend to be counter productive to a balanced family life. I know I personally default to this mindset and I have to correct myself often.

    Fortunately my wife is great at bringing me back to reality.

    Thanks, Alex, for the great post!

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