Are You Happy? Do You Have Work Life Balance?
A Story of Unhappiness, laced with an Absence of Balance
When I first met Joseph (name and some details changed for privacy reasons), he was like a ghost and his work life balance was shattered. His girlfriend was also his business partner and she had left him.
They’d always had a tempestuous relationship – he was Latino and she was Spanish. They’d argue and become very animated, but afterwards they’d make up, and the fire was an integral part of who they both were as artistes and performers.
The business had not been going well, though it was largely propped up by family money and the fact that his parents owned the business premises. Despite those cushioning factors, there were some real issues and some ongoing battles with neighbours, with parking and with the local Council.
When the relationship ended, he was devastated. What made the emotional turmoil far worse though, was that it left him without his sounding-board, his biggest companion and confidante, his ‘go-to’ person, with whom he tackled any of the many business problems. Suddenly, at his lowest ebb, he had been forced to keep going, flying solo against the prevailing winds.
Emotionally, he was a shell of his former, happy-go-lucky, enthusiastic and mercurial self. Physically, he felt crippled by an accident that had made performing difficult. Performing was the thing that nourished his soul, yet even that gift had temporarily abandoned him. He wasn’t sleeping; he wasn’t eating properly; he shunned his friends; he wasn’t exercising and he was losing his fitness. To top things off, his ex went to work with a competitor – evoking feelings of complete betrayal.
Much of the work that I did with him was to help him rediscover his light. Joe was a star who had shone brightly and who had largely dominated his industry locally for several years. With his partner by his side, he had felt invincible. In her absence, the darkness was beginning to engulf him. I was referred to him by one of his staff team – a friend who cared and was concerned by his sullen disposition.
Part of his problem was that his work was also his life. It hadn’t always been as all-consuming, but the nature of workaholism is that it’s rather like alcoholism – it creeps up on you insidiously.
As with most coaching success stories, Joe did the work. He did the hard yards of self-introspection, guided by me as the catalyst. A large part of digging yourself out of a hole is to ask the right questions and to chunk things down into manageable steps. When you’re down in the hole though, sometimes you can’t even breathe, let alone think of the right questions to ask yourself.
From memory, we turned him around steadily over about six months, though he said later that just having me to talk to had made an immediate impact. I’ll never forget a turning point session that we had one day though. My coaching instincts popped a question intuitively into my brain. I placed a pen and blank sheet of paper on the table in front of him and I asked him to write down all the things he liked about himself.
He sat and stared at the paper, like a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming truck. The silence was palpable. It took all of my self-restraint to sit there silently, down in the well with him, a supportive presence in the darkness. Finally, he vocalised that he couldn’t think of anything. It was a moment that embodied a human spirit that had been mercilessly stomped upon. I prompted him by asking him, “What would the people who know you say about you? Surely, they’d say you’re an honest person wouldn’t they?”
The pallor began to return to his skin. “Yes, I’m honest, probably too honest for my own good sometimes, but yes, people know I’m an honest person.” he replied, “And kind I think. Most people who know me would say I was kind.”
“That’s fantastic. Those are two really good traits to be proud of, aren’t they? Why don’t we start with writing those down?”
Within minutes, the ink was flowing again and the real Joe began to rediscover himself. I’m not sure which of us was the most relieved to come through that little test!
We worked on his sense of identity and his values. We redefined his attitude to creating some ‘Joe time’. He spent time away at a country retreat. He bought a pet puppy. We tackled some of his business issues, especially with regard to other personalities within his organisation, with his dealings with neighbours and the Council and a bunch of other things. We got him back in touch with the person who had created this mini-empire in the first place – himself. We brought back his enthusiasm and his creative love of his art. We also restored his love of nature and set him some travel goals that he could work towards. Grief takes time to heal from, but as time rolled on and as he did the work on himself, his sleeping, his health and his demeanour improved massively. So too did his business.
“You see, our lives are holistic and that’s why my approach is holistic. Some business coaches only want to know about your numbers and are scared to get involved in anything human. Some life coaches have no idea about the pressures of business. I can deal with whatever we need to talk about to help you achieve work life balance and help you to be happy.” ~ Tony Inman
Does that Story Resonate with You at all?
Happiness is found within. It’s not the responsibility of our life partner to make us happy or fulfilled – it’s our own. Sure they can enhance it, as Jo enhances my life, but it’s still your job to define who you are, what you want and why.
Living in alignment with your values and beliefs makes a massive difference. One problem is that most people never pause long enough to think about it.
Balance creates a space for you to do that. It’s no good if all your life eggs are in the work basket. I know, I’ve been there and I learned that lesson the hard way.
Now, whenever I set up a business, or when Jo talks about taking on work, we talk about the impact on our lives first. I set up my businesses with good people, with good systems and with a growth strategy and an exit strategy in mind right from the start.
If you’d like some help from someone who’s seen how not to do it so well and also learned how to do it well, feel free to contact me for a chat, or leave a message on +61 419 860 382.
There’s no obligation and if you wish to, we’ll set up a free discovery session to talk about your situation. You don’t need to tackle it all on your own 🙂
If you’d like to see some of my reviews from former clients – click here