Sadly, it's rare to see a family who has attained wealth and influence while maintaining balance and boundaries. For most "successful" entrepreneurs, go-getters, executives, or A-type personalities we see a lopsided life. We see rich in money, bankrupt in relationships. We see well-known but not known well. We see width but we don't see depth. We see passion but we don't see priorities. Ultimately, families who look like they have it "all together" typically don't.
Dreams, passions, and ideas have an effective way of blinding our good senses. Calling has a tendency to persuade us to compromise. But true leadership is seen in the man or woman who can gain the whole world without losing their soul. True leadership is seen in the person who understands that financial success without family success isn't success at all.
Nevertheless, most high-performance leaders are failing in this area. They become so busy strengthening a business they forget to strengthen their family. To make this even more complex, family failure doesn't happen in a day. The fall of a home is built in ignorant incrementalism. It's an often silent fade or quiet collapse.
You might be thinking, "Not me. Not my family." But let me remind you that men and women who are stronger than you, more mature than you, more experienced than you and more prepared than you have fallen in this area before. Let's not be naive to the early signs of a family's downfall due to a dream or business that has no boundaries.
Below, I have listed four common signs that your passion is turning your priorities upside down, your home inside out and your pride right side up.
1. Debt Is The Worst Poverty Because It's Intentional
G.K. Chesterton once said, "Every great man decays by forgetting obvious things." For some reason, people forget the obvious truth that if you can't afford to buy something, you shouldn't buy it. This obvious rejection of logic is especially prevalent among passionate entrepreneurs. Instead of saving, they trade their family's future for what they professionally desire in the present.
And we mustn't forget, for 90% of people in the modern world, debt is a choice, not a necessity. This is especially true among those who are privileged enough to be starting their own business.
However, the impractical pace of our world has convinced us of unrealistic timelines for our passionate projects. But bear in mind, fulfilled dreams are often decade-long endeavors, not overnight successes. So, borrowing money to simply speed up the process, no matter how practical it might sound, is almost never a wise solution for the future financial freedom of your family.
2. The Worst Kind Of Hurt Is Closeness Without Connection
When we moved onto our farm here in Oregon, I hung a framed print in our hallway that reads "Be present." A simple command many people can't seem to follow. My point being, closeness doesn't replace connection. Millions of breadwinners spend every day sitting three feet away from the family they only connect with a few times per year.
Our families need connection in the same way we need passion. As leaders, we need to add the health of our home relationships to the metrics of how we define success. Peter Drucker once said, "What gets measured gets managed." I would venture to guess that many of the spouses and children of high-performance leaders are measuring low on the metrics of connection.
The lesson is this, if your family falls then you fall. Investing into meaningful connection is not only something you should naturally desire but it's a critical component of maintaining the ultimate strength of your family's professional and personal goals.
3. Stress Is Caused By Being Here While Wanting There
While many leaders can camouflage their unhealthy level of competitiveness and comparison in motivational words and clever spins of reality, there is a self-inflicted consequence to these traits that we must not ignore: Stress. Not simply minor times of struggle but catastrophic, heart attack promoting levels of stress. Many leaders drive themselves and their families to the grave as they manifest their deep sense of insufficiency in their unquenchable need for more, for different and for new.
As a result, they import the displeasure of their current reality into their homes, their hearts and their schedules. They almost unknowingly rework their family's reality to fuel their need to measure up and in turn, leave their spouse and children exhausted and ill-informed of what healthy pursuit truly looks like.
4. Family Death Happens One Compromise At A Time
The Leaning Tower of Pisa falls at 1/20th of an inch each year. Without constant reinforcement, the tower will eventually collapse. I believe our families are quite similar. The phone calls, the looking at text messages, the late night meetings, the missed moments with your children, the peaks of stress and the piling up of debt are the tenths, quarters, and half-inches of our family's decline.
As I mentioned earlier, sustained negative incrementalism is the true sign of a dream that's destroying your home. It's a series of tiny compromises that redefine your life and your relationships through hundreds of subtle moments of hurt, insecurity, and disregard.
As leaders we must open our eyes. We must treat every compromise as a threat to our entirety. Furthermore, as a parent or spouse, we don't get to isolate our compromises to ourselves—they are included within the oneness designed in the family unit. If you fail they fail. If you hurt they hurt. If you're stressed they're stressed. Therefore, we must be watchful for the bait of compromise and be guarded against the seemingly "unpassable opportunities" that undermine what your family has agreed upon as non-negotiable.
Several years ago, I ignorantly walked this very path of destruction. I know what it feels like to have gained the whole world while losing my integrity, my reputation and my family's heart. But in April of 2014, I turned our life around, relocated our family, sold our multi-million dollar business and rededicated my life to our family's core values. If you're on a journey toward creating the balance between your passion and your personal life, let me help you.
I have three resources for you to consider:
- I just released my new book "Launch Your Dream: A 30-Day Plan For Turning Your Passion Into Your Profession". Inside this book, I don't only share my strategies for creating your dream career but also how to do so within the framework of a healthy, balanced life.
- If you're still lost on what your passion or calling might be, my wife and I wrote his and her books titled: "Find Your Calling: A 21-Day Guide For Discovering What You're Meant To Do". In these books, we walk both couples and individuals through a deep, yet easy journey toward identifying their life's most important work.
- If you have a business, blog, or non-profit idea but just don't know where to begin, I've designed an extensive step-by-step curriculum on how to start and grow the business of your dreams. You can learn more about this program in the video below.
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