One Step closer to work/life balance

Every once in a while you have an experience that changes a small part of you forever. A movie, a good night with friends/family, a concert – some event that becomes a small building block of who you become after that event.

I had one yesterday.

It started early in the morning, I was up at 4am, due to jetlag, and decided to go to the gym. My body doesn’t know which time zone I’m in so everything feels a little foggy. As I am deciding on my next exercise a gentleman walks up to me and offers me a handshake, I instinctively respond by meeting his hand and saying “good morning”. He looks like an American football coach or an ex Navy-Seal, this is further established with his vice grip…a real strong handshake. “So are you one of the auditors here as well”, he asks.

The conversation starts and he tells me he is going to speak to our group in the morning and that he is CEO of Coca Cola for West Africa. Wow. This is the equivalent of a hip hop junkie meeting P. Diddy in the gym. Many of my friends are into sports and entertainment…me…I’m into business. As soon as he tells me about Coca Cola, my mind starts racing on how I can learn more from him without being creepy in the gym. Eventually I stop asking him random questions and go about my workout.

A few hours later he is on stage speaking to about 400 colleagues and myself. His was one of the best speakers I have ever seen. The topic? Life lessons on managing corporate responsibilities and living your life – work/life balance. Throughout the span of 2 hours, James Lafferty provided us with 16 tips…I will share them with you below:

1. Define your “5 roles” in life and make choices. The average person has 22 roles in life (father, boyfriend, sibling, son/daughter, worker, coach, etc. etc). You can only do 5 roles at any given time…figure out what they are and stick to them.
2. Use 1 schedule for life – don’t have a work calendar and a personal calendar. “That’s just dumb”.
3. On defining moments in life – choose family. Never miss a birthday or special anniversary of loved ones.
4. Take real vacations. Don’t check email or BB when away, let your mind relax.
5. Master writing – job fundamentals of presenting your idea in a way that is understood by others.
6. Practice 80 to 20…not everything needs to be perfect. Get most things to 80% and move on. Carefully pick the 100 percenters.
7. Train your people.
8. 30 minutes of exercise a day
9. Keep relationships well-fed (pay attention to your loved ones)
10. Leverage technology, but be smart about it.
11. Make a list of 100 things to do before you die – do 2/year
12. People rise to your highest expectations or sink to your lowers. Trust and delegate.
13. Use the “mother” rule. Don’t fuck around debating ideas…make a decision and get on with it.
14. Eat the China way – as much food that is “grown” rather than “raised”
15. Integrate work and life
16. Give back – if you’re reading this blog – you have enough to eat. Help others with your luck and fortune.

I look around at my generation and we’re a bunch of overworked, unhappy pricks. We love to complain (generally) and engage in many self-fulfilling activities. Most people have 2 phones, 2 laptops, enough shoes and clothes to benefit a small African village. What can we do to change? Obviously, I ain’t gonna become Mother Teresa overnight but I will use some of tips above to try and make a difference in my life.

Speaking of which – for the first three people that respond to this blog and tell us which of the 16 they will incorporate in their lives…I will buy a mango tree for a school in Africa. These trees will be planted in a schoolyard and will be tended to by the children. Obviously, they’ll be able to reap the ‘fruits’ of their labour. Mangos – yum!