When It's Good to Bring Your Work into Your Home
One pet peeve of mine is that hard work in business is frowned upon in society at large. Real commitment is valued everywhere else except in business. Peyton Manning is lauded in sports because of the hours he spends watching film. Jack Kerouac was lionized for writing On the Road in one continuous writing binge over a three-week period. Daniel Day-Lewis trained for three years in the ring in preparation for The Boxer. And don’t forget James Brown, the hardest working man in show business. Yet when someone works hard in business, it is generally frowned upon.
There are pockets of business where hard work is valued. Do you remember Soul of the Machine (I can't believe it's been 32 years since this was written!)? Tom West was lauded by Tracy Kidder as someone who worked hard and played hard. Also, those individuals who work multiple jobs to make ends meet are deservedly revered. Yet, if a business executive works hard, he is a "workaholic," "neglecting her family," or "just doesn't have his priorities right." This is likely because dedication to business success is seen as primarily a materially-driven or egocentric pursuit. In some cases, that's true. But my experience is that most people that work hard are people who like to work, are good at it, accomplish a lot, and feel a great deal of responsibility and pride in what they are able to achieve.
Even though many husbands and wives sit in bed at night with their laptops open (I may have done this once or twice), the cardinal sin for a business person is to bring their work home with them... at least until now. Bruce Feiler releases a new book titled The Secrets of Happy Families. This book explains how, among other creative techniques, concepts developed for the workplace can be successfully adapted to family life. With so much research into business improvement practices, it makes good sense to apply some of these principles to the family.
One example is applying the Agile methodology to the family. Agile is used largely on software development projects to improve communication between all key members of a team. Feiler explains how applying Agile principals, especially the family meeting, can improve communication, responsibility, and accountability in the family. I also like the idea of family branding. Just like with a product, taking the time for a family to define its guiding principals will help all family members make decisions that are in line with the family brand.
So finally we have a socially acceptable platform for bringing business into the home: applying best business practices to your family. These are just a couple examples. Have you found any practices from your business that have helped improve the harmony of your family?
- Video: Rethinking Family Meetings (greatergood.berkeley.edu)
- Has Science Discovered The Secrets of Happy Families? (psychologytoday.com)