The following is based on one of Norm Trainor’s clients, Greg. All of the names and telling details have been changed.
When Greg walked into our first workshop, I was struck by how unhealthy he looked. At least 30 pounds overweight, he seemed tired and worn down. When I interviewed Greg, he mentioned that, at 43, he was feeling burned out and wanted to gain control over his time.
Paying a price for their own success is a common complaint of high-performing advisors. When I asked Greg to describe a typical week, he sighed and described 10- to 12-hour working days that left him depleted, affecting his home life with his wife and young family. The zest and passion he felt for the business was eroding and he could not imagine himself as a fulfilled financial advisor in 15 or 20 years.
Although Greg was living the American dream, he had lost sight of the importance of quality time in his own life.
My wife is a marital and sex therapist. One of the things I have learned from her is that the presenting problem is usually not the real issue. When individuals or couples come to see her, it is usually because they are having difficulties with intimacy. And, although it may be characterized by low desire or feelings of resentment or alienation, the real problem is in the way in which they are communicating. In Greg’s case, the presenting problem was the lack of quality time in his work. By spending too much time doing tasks that he did not enjoy, work had become a burden, rather than a source of enjoyment and pleasure. But the real problem was lack of quality time in his life.
There are five dimensions in our lives: work, family, community, self and our spiritual growth and development. The lines that separate these dimensions of our lives are permeable: When one area of our lives is out of balance, it affects all other areas. Like many high achievers, Greg’s life was out of balance and only focused on work.
In the first few months of our work together, we focused on time management. Most people think that effective time management comes from learning the skills of managing their calendar. In truth, the key to effective time management is having clarity of intention. (The word “intention” comes from the same root as “aim” or “plan.”) The challenge with Greg was to help him understand that a healthy practice was based upon a healthy life. Together, we laid out a schedule for Greg: four workouts a week; a conscious effort to lose weight through exercise and proper nutrition; a disciplined approach to spending quality time with his wife and children; and involvement in community and church activities.
Greg learned to delegate work he did not enjoy or was not particularly good at in order to focus on what he does enjoy: working with clients and spending time on marketing and sales activities. As Greg began to feel better and look better, his confidence soared. The zest and passion he once felt for his work returned. As a result, his revenue grew dramatically and as did his sense of fulfillment.