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Invest in Your Tribe

John Goodell, 4:02 am ET

WE’VE ALL SEEN the headlines: The tight U.S. labor market has prompted many businesses to increase starting salaries and offer hiring bonuses to new employees. But what about pay increases and bonuses for the workers who stick around, rather than jumping from one job to the next?

Like the employers who neglect loyal workers, many of us make the same mistake as we balance work and family. I’m certainly guilty. Every time I work late or take on a “side hustle,” there’s a tradeoff—less time with my family.

In May, I took on a particularly stressful legal case. After my primary job with the government ended each day, I had to put in countless additional hours. Even when I wasn’t actively working on the case during evenings and weekends, I was thinking about it and not “present in the moment” for events like family dinners. The case paid well. But it was a month when I saw relatively little of my kids—one I’ll never get back. In retrospect, the tradeoff wasn’t worth it.

Why do we prioritize work at the expense of family? Frankly, I believe it boils down to taking what we have for granted. Not unlike employers who offer pay increases and bonuses to the employees they don’t have rather than to those they do, we wrongly assume our spouse and kids will always be there for us.

But the kids will grow up, while our spouse may tire of not being the priority. The former will eventually leave home and so might the latter. Employers aren’t the only ones who’d be well-advised to invest in those who are already part of their tribe.

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Andrew Forsythe
Andrew Forsythe
9 days ago

Great post, John, and I was likewise guilty of the workaholic hours in my younger days. But being in business for myself also meant I could attend a lot of school activities and field trips that many dads had to miss—sometimes I was the only dad in a horde of moms.

On a lighter note, I heard a good line recently in reference to a politician who claimed he was not seeking re-election so he could “spend more time with my family”. The line was: “Before you say that, check with your family.”

Langston Holland
Langston Holland
9 days ago

Great and important thought for the day, thanks John.

This is a tough one. When I was newly married (in our early 20’s), having children and with a young man’s insecurity, I had a very successful father who instilled “work is the measure of a man” concepts in me. Like him, I worked too hard and made more money than necessary. I finally figured this out when I was about 50 and started correcting things. My Dad did the same around age 70, which was part of what “turned the light on” for me. The angel from Heaven that God sent to me for a wife largely sustained our children while I grew up.

Now that I’m retired I’m working just as hard as I ever was, but the time and effort are directed toward my family and my health and other people God brings into my life with needs that I have the tools to address. My children (26 to 36 yrs) have found that I’m far more human than they previously thought, meaning that my “black and white” perspectives on life are a lot more grey than they heard from me growing up. I’ve added apologies where needed, but with the caveat that I loved them to the fullest of my ability. I didn’t beat my Dad at the financial game (that’s what it becomes after your needs are met IMO), but I did wake up to the work imbalance 20 years earlier than him and have challenged my children to beat me with their families by the same number of years! : )

The transition between me and my father felt like “wow, this guy is very cool, though not as perfect as I’d imagined”. I’m hearing pretty much the same from my whippersnappers. : )

Last edited 9 days ago by Langston Holland
John Goodell
John Goodell
9 days ago

Thank you for sharing this. I saw the same transition with my dad a few years ago. He still works hard in his 70s and is successful at what he does, but I noticed he was going on vacation more and for longer and his hours at the office weren’t nearly as long.

My wife says that it’s the quality not the quantity of time we spend with our family that matters, and she’s right. My dad may have worked his butt off in sales when I was younger, but he did it for us, and I’ll cherish the times I went selling with him on the road all over America, discussing history on long car rides from Nashville to Chicago or New York. When he was with me, he was focused on me. That time was invaluable, and it had an enormous affect on me in so many ways (I’m sure it had something to do with why I majored in history). I bet much of the same threads/themes would be true in your family based on what you wrote above.

Last edited 9 days ago by John Goodell
Rick Connor
Rick Connor
9 days ago

Great food for thought. Finding that balance between marriage, children, family, work, friends, community, hobbies, …. is very difficult. I think our lives have seasons when we prioritize one are over the other, but we need to always be aware of the balance.

R Quinn
R Quinn
9 days ago

Words of wisdom – but easier said than done. I recall those days when working trying to keep a balance and occasionally hearing “you’re always working” – or thinking about work. Trying to do the best for the family- and I don’t mean luxuries- is tough, keeping the right balance even more so.

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