Last month, I attended NAHB’s midyear meeting in Miami and had the pleasure of sitting in on a presentation by Daniel Swift, president and CEO of Des Moines-based architecture group BSB Design.
At a time when good people can find a job almost anywhere their skills are a match, it is invigorating to be surrounded by a team of zealots.
At a time when good people can find a job almost anywhere their skills are a match, it is invigorating to be surrounded by a team of zealots. Business books and articles often talk about invigorating your people: Don’t fire them, fire them up; turn your team into winners, on and on and on. That information is geared to organizations filled with people who talk about their pride in giving 9 to 5 to their employer. They proudly go home at night and claim to focus on family, friends, community, etc. They consider this a balanced life.
I can’t criticize them for this belief system, but I firmly believe most are being deceived. If they are focused on working only the mandatory hours, they are probably working only according to their "job description." This means their benchmark for achievement is the guidebook set at the time of their employment and has nothing to do with the evolving needs of the organization they work for. They’re there to "collect a check."
They are also held back from self-growth. Having no interest in putting in more than expected means they are devolving in value to the group and to the industry they serve. Their skill set will eventually be outdated, and their ability to "collect a check" will be hindered. Their value as a "breadwinner" diminishes as they gain only average raises offered each year.
I agree, we should focus on our family, our friends and our community. Otherwise, we deserve none of them and gain none of the personal rewards.
But as I started saying, I am fortunate to be surrounded by zealots. A few nights ago I was out to dinner with many of the Professional Builder team. The discussion was loud, passionate and focused on the building industry. We all loved the banter and learned from each other’s opinions and experiences.
These zealots are continually evolving with new ideas, new approaches and enriched commitment. Are they working beyond 9-5? Absolutely, but they are making new friendships with leaders in our industry and discovering new ways to serve their community through the profession they have chosen.
OK, what about family? Everyone approaches this one differently. My wife and I decided before we got married that we shared a desire for a family that included children. It was not the reason we got married, but it was an important part of how we visualized our future together. We wanted the responsibility of contributing to the world’s population good, healthy people with a full sense of possibility and opportunity. We would not try to limit what they would become as long as they were not in danger or putting anyone else in danger.
To achieve this goal we realized we needed to be the example and set a proper environment. While my wife stays home with our children (by the way, they are spectacular!), she also participates in community activities and does some consulting work. It is her way of demonstrating opportunity and continual personal growth to our children.
Because of my career choices, I travel a great deal and do not spend as much time with my family as I want. It is a problem when the desire is not matched by the execution. It is definitely something I struggle with a great deal.
After the dinner with the Professional Builder zealots I started thinking about the issue of "life balance." The passion of these people allows me to spend more time with my family. It has been the few individuals in our group dedicated to the time clock and the job description that eat up more of my time and my opportunity to spend it with my family, friends and community. Their diminishing value to our organization has meant that the rest of the team has to be creative, thoughtful, involved and growing at a hyper-pace to make up for them.
An old business quote says, "If you are not moving forward you are moving backward." If an entire team is full of zealots, greatness can be accomplished. Trust and a sense of belief come easily. Everyone gains from the successes, and the enthusiasm carries over to family, friends and community. We live with a sense of wonder.
Life balance occurs only when all elements of your life are enriching.