Family Career Balance

As your role changes, you change with it. Changes are inevitable when you move through your career. From the book “what got you here won’t get you there” we have all learned that different behaviors are expected at different times in your working life. The question is if the family moves along with you.

Many very visible high powered individuals get caught doing things that are not ethical or violate “family values”. Many divorces occur as a result. What is it that causes this change in behavior and the loss of connection between the family and the career individual?

Two things are important; are you still true to your own values and are you still effectively communicating with the family?

Some managers, executives, politicians and CEO’s, start to believe in the role they play in society or in the company to such an extend that they continue to play that same role at home. They are successful, rich, surrounded by people who will see after every wish they have without asking questions and they start to expect that to be the case at home too. This behavior will lead to tension at home as the  spouse is often not part of this gradual change in behaviors and expectations and still believes the career individual to be the same person they married so many years ago. Research shows that power makes people more egocentric, and so they focus on their own needs; power reduces a person’s ability to take on the perspective of others; and power makes people feel psychologically invisible. As the scandals bring down their business or political life, they would have been better served with a solid support environment at home, a spouse who holds the mirror to do a reality check from time to time and a safe place to vent and blow off steam while relaxing and re-generating to go out again and play their role in business or society.

So don’t be like the train that leaves the station but leaves the important passengers on the platform but ensure you take the family and your support network along for the ride. Keeping the family abreast of what happens and what changes in your life is not always easy and can be time consuming but looking at the disastrous personal, business and political results when loosing touch and getting out of sync, it is the right thing to do both for your progress and your own happiness.

Some very small easy steps may be enough to ensure you don’t loose your footing.

  • Change your clothes when coming home, a change of appearance will trigger a change in behavior
  • Make family events a non negotiable priority, not something that your assistant can deal with
  • Avoid taking business calls from home or confine your business activities to only one room of the house
  • Talk about the changes in your public life and how they affect you

The family who got you here will get you there, just take them along and stay in touch. With a twist on the lyrics from Baz Luhrmann in the SunScreen Song: “Be nice to your family, they are your best link to the past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future”.


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