Part 4 of 4 - The conclusion of ‘A Letter to my Three Sons on Being Self-Employed’
11. Life Balance
Life balance is a necessary ingredient for the recipe of a successful self-employed life. You boys know my desire to keep working throughout life is based on balance between my personal and professional goals. You also know when you were young, I didn't work as many hours as I do now. I was spinning fewer plates at work so I could spend more time with you three and your mother. School events, hanging out, weekends together - looking back at these choices, I wouldn’t change a day. Yes, it cost me money at the time, but the payoff today is so much more valuable.
You boys are now working with me, and collectively, we have long since surpassed the business goals that I dreamed of in the early days. Working less made no difference, but thankfully, I have the wonderful memories of helping raise our three sons. A healthy life balance guards against some of the pitfalls of capitalism. I have watched many business owners focus too much on their company to the painful expense of other areas of their lives and I want to help you avoid those costly mistakes.
One of the big benefits of self-employment is controlling your own schedule. Have the courage to balance out your day. I use the word courage because the fear of failure can be a very strong motivator to overwork in your business. To ensure life balance for our employees, we have six areas that I want our MDL employees to focus on:
1. Health and Fitness
2. Fun & Entertainment
4. Personal Development
5. Giving Back
Career is the last focus and that is intentional. If you do the top five, you can have a very successful career, plus you will increase the odds of staying in your marriage, as well as having a more fulfilling life that you can share with others.
In my experience, a good life balance allows me to get along better with my kids, to have more fun, and to be healthy and enjoy good friends. A healthy life balance also bestows upon me the great blessings of giving of myself to others and God. Money is a terrible taskmaster. If you love it and put it first, I guarantee you that someday, you will be sorry.
Proverbs 29:2,4,12 – “When the godly are in authority, the people rejoice, but when the wicked are in power, they groan. A just king gives stability to his nation, but one who demands bribes destroys it. If a ruler pays attention to liars, all his advisors will be wicked.”
Unfortunately, it seems to be a common thought by much of the general public that in order to be successful in business, one needs to be manipulative, less than honest, and take advantage of people to get ahead. We have all heard the term ‘filthy rich’ used because if some people have more, it is sometimes assumed that they must have done something wrong to obtain it.
Making money from your own efforts, like investing in cryptocurrency or trading personal business services for pay, is one thing. Running a company where others are working close to you, being associated with you, following your lead is very different. If you lie, steal, cheat, manipulate, or back out on your word, you can rest assured some of your employees will do the same to you.
A company run without integrity cannot make it a lifetime, let alone the one hundred years we are shooting for at MDL.
You may not be able to change the perceptions of the general public, but you darn well better be thought of as a man of integrity by those who work for you. Remember, it takes time to build a good reputation and only a day to ruin it through poor choices.
Proverbs 11:25 - “The generous man (is a source of blessing and) shall be prosperous and enriched, and he who waters will himself be watered, (reap the generosity he has sown).”
If you are thinking about the needs of your employees as well as the needs of your company, and if you truly want to meet the needs of your customers first and profit second, your employees will have your back because they know you have theirs. The customer will refer business to you. If you are only looking for what your employees can do for you with the least cost to the company, and if your employees laugh at the idea of associating generosity with you, they will give the bare minimum because that is what you are giving them. Your company will never experience great success. You need the buy-in of your people and full effort by the collective group to achieve something of lasting value.
Generosity is great fun! In my experience, it benefits the giver more than the receiver. Jesus said – “It is more blessed to give than receive.” Boys, I can tell you that your mother and I have experienced this truth many times over!
Give the gift of your time and money and you will never run out of money, and you will have an eternity to ponder the blessings of giving.
Well boys, these are a few thoughts and characteristics that I've seen in successful people and from hard, self-taught lessons. I will not always be here. Someday you will run this company without me, so I wanted to share my thoughts and my experiences with you and my future grandchildren, as well as the current and future employees who might work with us someday. Life changes fast, but I believe these principles will stand the test of time.