Last night I was honored to be the guest of a show I host. Odd. No I didn’t book myself, it was the idea of our committee but it was an honor to have been asked. I sat in the proverbial hot seat and answered questions about past guests, my leadership roles, advice or thoughts I’ve learnt from both and the things that make me happy. The process of being the person that had to answer these questions caused me to reflect on the past 8 years of my career. As I sat in the seat my wife was right there in the front. She came to watch and support me. Her support has been a common thread throughout the past 14 years of marriage, but specifically now as we grew my career.
One of the people interviewing me happened to be the first person I interviewed with when trying to break into the business community in my city. Oddly this interview was 8 years to the day of that interview. The past 8 years have had tremendous ups and downs as one would expect. It’s been filled with many sacrifices as well as rewards. All of which were shared by my wife and family. With degrees that would probably allow me to make less annually than they cost to get and very little experience I had to talk/sell my way into any position I tried for. I remember leaving a construction site in ripped jeans and a gross t-shirt to go to an interview for my first white collar job. While driving I changed into the only suit I had (my wedding tux) and cleaned up as best I could. After doing a business plan (which I had never done before) and doing several interviews I broke my way into the business world. I went from construction site super to a Business Development Manager overnight. That was 8 years ago.
Since then I have spent many of my evenings and weekends at networking events, business gala’s, and meetings in an attempt to build my network. Leaders often lead busy lives. When I first started my journey in the white collar world my wife and I had one son. He was little and fairly easy to manage. It was perfect timing for me to be really busy outside of our house. It was a sacrifice for my family but it worked well and we saw the end goal. As my son grew older, and we had another boy eventually the late night events and early morning board meetings started taking a strain on those I cared for most. I remember thinking that I was doing all of this work to take care of my family, “so why on that same token am I never around to spend time with them?” I decided to step down from some of my commitments to focus on my family. Luckily for me the years I had spent networking had built a strong base of relationships. The experience had also allowed me to plug into enough things/committees/boards to know which ones were worth staying in. Anything that wasn’t was cut from my commitments. Leaders have to make decisions. The best decisions are the ones that have great long term outcomes. Over the past 8 years my wife and I have made decisions that we had hoped would provide for our family. Some days it was very hard and we often found ourselves exhausted.
Looking back over the past 8 years a few things are evident. I would not be where I am today without the support of my wife. Any success I have had personally is in many ways more a reflection of my wife’s love and grace than it is of my leadership ability. The old saying behind every good man is a great woman is very true in my case. The other thing I’m very aware of is the only way to lead well is by serving the needs of the ones you work with, live with and love. The book of Matthew says in chapter ten that “Whoever wants to be great must become a servant.” Lead well in all ventures of your life if you want long term success. You can lead a great business and leave your family behind. You can also have a great family life and have your business fall to pieces. Leadership is making the decisions to influence all aspects of your life positively.