One of the things I find hardest to handle professionally is the conversations I have with business owners when their personal relationships are in trouble. Of course, I know that many people go through divorce and hard times with their children, but it still makes me sad for the person I’m working with when I hear these stories.
And lately I seem to be hearing more of them than usual, which is always a good reminder to me personally, and also to the women that I work with, that it’s critical to remember one very important secret in business.
A dear friend once told me that Medicine is the mistress of the physician. But frankly, the same can be said about a business. Your business can become your mistress (or whatever the male version of a mistress is). Your business can suck up all of your time, attention, and energy at the expense of the other people in your life. I know this because I live it myself.
Last Sunday, when I woke up I sat in bed thinking. My husband looked at me and asked, “Are you thinking about work or the kids?” “Both,” I replied. And it was true. But notice he didn’t even ask me if I’d been thinking about him. Was I sad about that? No. But his question did serve as a reminder of how much time I spend thinking about my business.
One of my favorite expressions is “Relationships first.” I hammer it home with our business owners and myself often (because, as you just read, I need to remind myself of it as well.)
Because at the end of the day, when it’s all said and done, the only thing that matters in this world are the relationships you built with the people you love the most. The businesses, the associates, the customers – they all fade away eventually. But your relationships grow and deepen and sustain you when you need them most.
And so when a business owner tells me that her marriage is failing in part because of her business, I care less about fixing that business and more about helping her see what can be done to fix her marriage. Because relationships come first. Always.
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