Work-Life Balance: A Lesson from the Home Depot Founder

July 3, 2018 05:00 AM
 

In 1978, Arthur Blank co-founded Home Depot. From scratch, he and his business partner revolutionized the home improvement store concept. He spent 23 years as a key leader in the company and became a billionaire. (He actually bought the Atlanta Falcons in 2002!)

Not only did he have a demanding and fulfilling professional life, but he also had a large family.

“I have six wonderful children. And my wife has three children. I always consider The Home Depot to be my seventh child,” Blank told Guy Raz on the “How I Built This” podcast.

At Blank’s retirement dinner, his oldest daughter said in a video piece: “Dad, you know, I never realized when I was growing up the size of The Home Depot and the success of it because you were always there for me. You were always at events that were important to me. You were always there when I was doing dance recitals. You were always there.”

Blank placed equal importance to his professional and family roles. He worked around the kids' schedules, working early in the morning and after he put them to bed.

“I always made sure there was balance in my life,” he says. 

This is the advice he gives to young professionals.

“I always tell them, you know, make sure you have balance in your life and—because too many young executives, men or women, their attitude is that you got to work now, work hard and put my career on fifth gear and go, go, go,” he says. “When you return home in 10 years, you're not going to recognize your kids and your spouse is going to look at you and say, who are you again? So, I think it's important to find balance in your life.”

Listen to this fascinating podcast:

As farmers, you have many pulls on your time. Long and inconsistent hours make it difficult to make baseball games, county fairs and bedtimes. 

The first step to juggling your many responsibilities is to admit you won’t have a perfect balance between farm, family and other responsibilities, says Laura Cornille-Cannady, a farm business consultant. 

“It’s your definition of success that counts,” she says. “True balance would require perfection, and that alone blows the notion out of the water that you can achieve balance. Balance in life is not about equal time. Understand and use your life rhythm to maximize your physical, cognitive, emotional and spiritual energies.” 

Here are a few tips on how to feel satisfied with how you spend your time and life. 

  • Set appropriate expectations at home, at work and in the community. 
  • Spend 10% of your time creating and monitoring your life plan.
  • Make it a rule to be present in all that you do—multitasking is not being present.
  • Step measuring productivity or accomplishment by “hours worked.” Instead measure by results. 
  • Be sure to create space just for you, it can be physical or in your head.
  • Define your limits for yourself and then tell them to others.
  • Get an ally—a coach, family member or friend who will help hold you accountable.
  • Eliminate the morning madness. Plan and implement a non-hurried morning routine.
  • Identify times that are limited to family or friends and make dates.
  • Simplify workplace and home processes.
  • “Care about” but do not “take care of” others.

Do you struggle with work-life balance? How are you coping? I’d enjoy hearing about it, email me at sschafer@farmjournal.com 
 

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