Children's children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children.
-Bible, Proverbs 17:6
When we moved to Florida and I had my first role with Disney, I worked long hours in an effort to get ahead. My career had always been a driving force. We had three children, a son and twin daughters, who were three years of age or under. We were active in our church. With all of our busyness, my wife and I were moving apart in our marriage. We weren't fighting—we just weren't engaging.
I went to hear the Chairman of a major banking system in Florida speak at a Lifework Leadership event. He was everything I wanted to be—very successful financially, well regarded in the community, powerful and influential. I was hoping his talk would be about how to achieve a life like his. Instead, he talked about the failure of his marriage due to his neglect. He said he would give anything to go back and restore that relationship. His words echoed in my mind as I drove home: "If you fail with your family, you fail in life."
Yet, I soon fell back to old habits and started to miss dinners and events with my children. Then, I read a Wall Street Journal article in which the author interviewed very successful CEOs. He asked them what they would do differently if they could do it all over again. One CEO said he had missed many family events because of work requirements. His quote greatly impacted me: "You will never remember the business emergency, but you will always remember the missed ball game and piano recital."
You have a job for years, but you have your family for life. With children, the most important times in their lives and when parents have the greatest influence are the pre-school years and their high school years. Being present to your children to help them navigate through a variety issues gives them a solid foundation for their future. If you have to give up a promotion to stay home more during those years, you'll likely find it a worthy trade-off.
It takes effort and sacrifice to keep a family together. Those who want to really excel and succeed in life take on this challenge, and reap lifetime benefits.
• Treat commitments to your family with the same priority as work and other commitments.
• Recognize the importance of being present for your children, especially in their teenage years.
Strong family relationships, successful children, a worthy legacy
Excerpted from Chapter 49, Put Family First, of The Surpassing Life: 52 Practical Ways to Achieve Personal Excellence, thesurpassinglife.com.