The following section is an excerpt from Chapter 20 of my book Win at Home First.
This chapter was also discussed more in-depth on the ‘Dads Building Teams’ podcast, as it was a favorite part of the book for the host, Jeremy Pryor. Listen here.
BE PRESENT—BOTH MENTALLY AND PHYSICALLY
One common theme in the interviews was discussing the balance of home and work and how important it is. Yet we all relate to the all-too-familiar example many of us have experienced where we go to a work dinner with someone we may never see again and give our best by asking questions, caring, listening, and being funny, yet when we come home, we have nothing to give. We sit on the couch and watch a sports game. We open up our laptop and check emails. We don’t ask our family how their day was. If we do ask, we may not even listen to their response.
We can be guilty of doing this right outside our own homes. We may be fighting inside with our spouse or kids, yet when we go outside to get the mail or take out the trash and run into a neighbor, it is game on. We are super happy and talkative. You would think it was the best day ever. Deep down we have the energy, but sometimes we only use it for strangers and neighbors.
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We even see this in our kids at different times. I remember at one point we were having some tough weeks with our nine-year-old daughter, Kamdyn. She was very low energy in the house, in a bad mood, not very talkative, short tempered. My wife and I went to a parent-teacher conference prepared to hear the bad news, how our daughter was being a pain, not paying attention in class, bossing people around during group play, not sharing toys or ideas. We were at the edge of our seats waiting to hear the news.
We got the exact opposite report. The teacher said our daughter was one of her favorite students—always raised her hand in class, led group activities, helped other kids, and the list went on. We were so grateful and proud, but also perplexed and confused. To be honest, we were even a little mad.
How come the teacher and other students got the best of our daughter, yet we got the worst? The reality is, she does what we all do. She was giving the best to people at school, gymnastics, and other places outside the home, yet when she was home, she had nothing left to give.
We drew the line in the sand. We were no longer going to allow our daughter to operate that way. Nor could we. We could not continue to give the best of ourselves to the outside world and then treat our loved ones like crap. There had to be a better way.
The motto in our house is: “Don’t give others the best, and we get the rest.”
What does that look like? We each have to rally after a long day at school or work and be present with our family. At the dinner table we have conversations and talk about each other’s day. No phones at the dinner table, and everyone is mentally present. Don’t get me wrong. We have down time in our house; we’re not always in interview mode. But we make sure we are caring about each other like we do for the business meal we have with someone we may never see again.
Just having this motto in our home is great because if any of us are having an off day, we can bring this phrase up and it helps us recalibrate. Vocabulary creates culture, and since we are all aware of this phrase, we can get on the same page quickly.
Does this mean you don’t give your best at work so you can give your best at home? Not at all. You’ll find that when you’re giving your best at home, you have more in the tank to give at work! We are the ones who give ourselves permission to crash when we get home. We accept the idea that it is OK to crash on the couch. Sometimes we even think we deserve it because we worked so hard that day.
Our family deserves more. Our spouse had just as challenging a day as we did, some days worse. Our kids may have had a difficult day, or maybe they had an amazing day and they are just waiting for you to ask them about it. If we choose every day not to engage with our family when we get home, we create distance between us and them.
When you engage with your family members, they know they matter. You build confidence and security. They can dream bigger because they know you will be alongside them on the ride. If it is always about you, they will think they don’t matter. They will begin to feel isolated and limited.
Begin the mindset shift now. On your way home from your next work dinner or long day, turn the radio off and start to pray, think, meditate, or whatever gets your heart realigned. During that drive home, give thanks for a great work dinner and maybe the new relationship or partnership that was established. From this position of thanks, ask for energy to engage with the family at a higher level. Ask for grace and patience as the kids may be extra loud or crying or the dog may be barking. More times than not, you will have a better mindset as you walk into your home, and you will be able to engage.
Give your family more because they deserve it and because it sets them up for greater success in life.
If you are looking to grow more in your leadership at home and work, check out my new book, Win at Home First. This book was #1 Amazon new release in 3 different categories, and appeared in FORBES as ‘7 Books Everyone on Your Team Should Read.‘ Thanks for your support and let me know if I can help you grow!