Written By: Andrew Books
When I was 19, the world was my oyster. Young, unencumbered by debt, my first real job out of high school provided a pretty decent revenue stream. This allowed me the freedom to go where I pleased and do what I wanted. I was free.
My first job was in the foodservice industry where I was a waiter at a prominent Mexican restaurant chain. Through a series of changes and internal moves within that location, I was eventually promoted to Lounge Manager, which meant I was in charge of all operations within the bar area. I hired, trained and helped run all of the front of-the-house operations (everything in front of the kitchen) and made a pretty decent salary for a kid that had not even turned 21. I bought my first brand new car right off the lot. I shared my first apartment with my two best friends who also worked at the same establishment and were enjoying similar freedoms. We experienced bachelorhood to the fullest. No debt. No mortgage. No kids.
Fast-forward to 2014, the circumstance are considerably different. I’ve been happily married for over two decades. My wife and I have 2 children – one, a teenaged-boy who is on the cusp of beginning his post-high school collegiate experience, the other, a tween daughter who I fear is close to the years where her Dad is no longer the coolest guy she knows. Along with them are the normal things the average American household has…a mortgage, car payments and a whole host of other responsibilities that ensure I will be working well into my later years in order to properly fund a livable retirement.
At some point in this blur of a lifetime, it hits me. It ain’t about me anymore.
My wife and I have always made a point to put the needs of our family first above all else. That means we have made sacrifices in order to ensure our children are raised in the best possible environment. Not too long after our first child was born, Linda, my wife, announced to me that she wanted to be a stay at home parent. Knowing the emotional importance to her that she be present for the most developmentally important years of our first child’s lifetime, I agreed, but…truth be told, I was shell shocked.
My hope was to put our child into daycare and for my wife to pursue a career in education. Translation: we needed the money. Establishing financial security early was of incredible importance to me, and after many part-time years in college, I was ready to take my undergraduate degree and begin the return on my collegiate investment. However, I knew that it would not be enough to provide for a family and begin saving the way I envisioned at the same time. Still, the priority was clear. Our child’s needs had to come first. So….we did exactly that. And I have never regretted the decision.
In my opinion, raising children to provide them the best opportunities for success is the best thing I could ever accomplish in life. The challenge has prepared me for so many other things with so much more to come. I have always felt that some of my best leadership lessons are grounded in my role as a devoted father and husband.
Those lessons parallel over to my professional life, where one, distinct statement still rings true. It ain’t about me anymore.
Every night before going to bed, my daughter, Kayla, will track me down where ever I am in the house to say good night. Chances are she’ll find me doing some work somewhere in the house or in front of the computer paying a few bills. After she gives me a hug and plants a kiss on my cheek, she will utter the same words she says to me every night…“please come say good night to me in bed.” It’s her way of reminding me that I have to complete one more required task of the day before calling it a night myself. It’s also her opportunity to ask me any burning last-minute questions or talk about something that happened in school that day before she dozes off. For me, it’s an affirmation that I need to take a moment to build on the relationship with my daughter that will help us both grow for years to come. The more I can engage and develop her, the more I contribute on her journey to being a responsible member of society. On the professional side, it’s a reminder to me that I must pay attention to the needs of those I work with. The more I can engage and develop them, the better we are both prepared to take on the every-day needs of our working society.
Much like my kids depend on me to support them and to put their needs first, the people I support (or as some may say, the associates who report to me) depend on me to help them grow, achieve their goals and remove the obstacles to performance. Both groups expect and need me to put their concerns above my own. Through this small, yet important part of engagement, both groups are positioned for success.
Different circumstances, different results, but the same methodology. Sometimes all the inspiration you need to be at your best comes from the home.
Where does your inspiration come from? How does that translate to your career success?
Andy Books is a proud father of 2, husband to his wife, Linda, and leadership professional with years of experience covering management, training and operational planning. In addition to his current role as an Client Operations Program Manager, he also facilitates business management courses as a member of Adjunct Faculty for a Wisconsin-based private college. When not working or teaching classes, you will find him in his natural habitat taking on unending projects at his home and being a general all-around family man.
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If you like this post, there are others Andy’s written that focus on the workplace and leadership practices:
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