Welcome to San Jose! This is my first blog entry this year, and for those who have read my postings in the past I tend to talk about more general topics rather than specific sessions. Many topics are derived from conversations with friends at dinner or outside the exhibit hall. My first conference topic is one that I hope will generate feedback and discussion. The topic is Work-Life Balance.
Most everyone is familiar with the I Am Second advertising campaign. If you are not familiar, the premise is that relatively famous people have changed their lives and direction to become more spiritual and place themselves "second" to their Saviour. I saw one of the ads the other evening on television, and it stuck with me for a moment - not because of the message they were sending regarding you and your religious life/dedication/etc, but rather about my entire life and well being.
Six months ago, I took on the Acting Town Manager duties for my town. We have our issues and warts, but we slowly began moving forward in a positive direction for the first time in a while. However, that was not sustainable for a number of reasons, and after a while I began to wear out physically and mentally. Utlimately, I think it led to me having my gallbladder removed last Thursday. My body began to breakdown from 80 hour weeks not including weekends. I even found my first gray hair! I began to put everything else in life first,, especially work and work committments, and all of me second.....or third, fourth, dead last. I remember talking to my Dad on the phone and he said "Stephen....quite trying to be Atlas." At that moment it just clicked - I had been trying for months to be Atlas - hold the whole world on my shoulders and keep everything going no matter what....including work, management team, citizens, my life (internally) as well as extermally (my family and friends).
I think city managers, by nature, are Type-A workaholics or borderline. I begain turning into something I said I never was going to be - the work will always be there. I will never not have something on the plate to do. So, what am I sacrificing in the mean time? I found it easy to slip into crazy long hours too easily - into a life that is not sustainable.
What I have learned over the past few weeks is that it is okay to occassionally put yourself first - perhaps not in your spiritual world or within your family, but rather in your work-life. Otherwise, everything will become second to work and that is something most of us never want.
We talk so much about balancing work and our lives, and yet we do such a poor job of actually doing it. I want to be successful in my career...., but I also want a successful marriage to my wife and ultimately perhaps children. So, over the next couple of days I challenge you to develop one pie chart of your life/time as it exisits today. Then, draw a second pie chart with how you want it to be divided. Finally, make those hard decisions and adhere to those regardless. It is something I am working each day. If you have tips/suggestions/struggles/ideas/etc please feel free to share them...after all, that is what this blog is for.
Thanks, and I look forward to seeing everyone around the Convention Center.