Years ago, while at a networking event, I met these two guys who were account executives for MCI, a phone company of the past. We were introduced during the meet-and-greet session and they asked what I was doing. They were curious. Back then being a life coach was still new. They were both married and had young children.
They asked many questions and at some point, we got talking about being available to our clients. I told them that I kept a clear boundary between family and work time. After all, my corporate days were fresh in my mind and I wasn’t going to repeat the same mistake.
Their response was fascinating. They both smiled, with an air of clear superiority and pride. One of them said (while the other one was nodding in agreement): “My family knows that clients come first. My cell phone is with me at all times. A client calls, I answer.” Then he proceeded to ask me: “How can you not be available 24/7? What if someone needs you?”
I felt deeply sorry for them and their families. Did they have any idea of the long-term consequences of this kind of behavior? Why have a family if you’re going to be married to your job? Why impose this conflict upon you and your loved ones? Furthermore, what’s wrong with some boundaries?
My clients know I’m there for them, but not 24/7. I have office hours and prearranged appointments. How effective of a life balance advisor would I be, if I didn’t mind my life balance? I don’t live to work and I’m not defined by what I do. There are many aspects to me and I enjoy wearing my many hats. My work is important to me but I’m not willing to sacrifice everything else for my work.
These two men were puzzled by my answers. In their mind, I would never be successful. Their definition of success was far different from mine. My sense of success, fulfillment, and abundance come from sources that, at that point, were foreign to them. All I could do was wish them well.
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