Change your workaholic behaviour with Peter’s story
Today I want to share with you a little story about one of my very good friends. Let’s call him Peter. Peter is an owner of a successful growing business. Peter hadn’t taken a proper break in many many years. He took his laptop with him when he went on holiday with his family. While there, he checked in on his emails and the office at least once a day to ensure that everything is running smoothly. His company’s staff turnover is very low. The vast majority of his employees are really high performing. They are extremely competent and experienced dream team members that have been working for him for many years. Peter’s tale has a happy ending. I am hoping it will help you change your workaholic behaviour.
Getting off the hamster wheel
Peter and I had various discussions over an extended period of time about his desire to let go of the reigns a bit more. We’d discussed the importance of him taking a break. As with most entrepreneurs, Peter’s journey originally started with a vision of creating a life worth living for him and his family. However, he became so entangled in the day to day operations of his own business that he couldn’t seem to free himself even for a single day.
Although being involved is not necessarily a bad thing, Peter’s position was very risky from a business sustainability and business continuity perspective. It had reached a point where it was limiting his business’ ability to grow.
Challenging the status quo
I had a telephone discussion with Peter only days before his next attempt at an annual holiday away with his family. But like so many times before, when I asked Peter whether the laptop would stay at home this time around, his answer was no.
Peter was quite taken aback when I told him that he was being incredibly rude. I explained he had such wonderful team members. If I were them, I would feel quite insulted if after so many years he still felt the need to check up on me every day. As long as they knew how to get hold of him in the event of a crisis, I did not understand on what basis he still didn’t trust them to get the job done.
Not to mention how discarded his family must feel. After all the support, understanding and sacrifice they have made throughout the entire year. He had continued to work long and hard on his business. On a level, they knew they were still not considered worthy enough to receive his undivided attention. Not even for this short period once a year. My views were met with a very long silence and eventually a soft spoken admission that he had never considered such a perspective.
The evidence is clear
Over the years I had quoted many studies on burn out and the positive impact a well-balanced lifestyle can have on your personal productivity. But these never appeared to even make the slightest impact on Peter’s apparent self-image of invincibility.
For the first time I got Peter to open his eyes to the potential impact his actions were having on those around him. It became the very first holiday (of many) that the laptop was left off throughout his entire annual break.
You have to want to change
Peter is not the first entrepreneur I have come across that face these challenges. I am grateful for the opportunity that we have had to assist many of them to make a positive change. The very first step is always that they themselves need to want to make a change. If Peter’s story sounds way too familiar, then I challenge you to start taking action. Make the necessary changes to reinstate balance in your life and get assistance if need be. If not for yourself, do it for your family and your team.
How to change your workaholic behaviour
- Create a vision of a life worth living
Peter started the change by considering what a good work/life balance would look like.
- Recognise the habitual nature of your workaholic behaviour
Being able to observe your workaholic behaviour helps you to recognise how you are perpetuating the problem.
- Understand the impact of your behaviour on others
Peter was clearly on auto-pilot and in his comfort zone. He hadn’t previously taken time out to understand how his behaviour impacted others.
- Discover how you are compromising your own values by your workaholic behaviour
The family was important to Peter, it was one of his highest values. Once he realised how he was compromising his family which was his highest priority, he was motivated to stop working while on holiday.
- Choose to change and create a different way of living
You will find it hard to ignore your most important value and so you must decide to change within yourself, only by you making this decision for yourself can you make the necessary changes.