I was working with a business owner – a very successful one at that. I’m going to call him “Steve.” Steve had all the money in the business to do pretty much whatever he wanted. Time was an issue for him, an issue he didn’t want to address. The family did, however. He was oblivious to their needs and desires. He had 4 beautiful children – but didn’t spend much time with them. Instead Steve worked to get the money to purchase ‘items’ for them, thinking this would buy their love. This meant he didn’t have to spend time with the family.
He wanted to, but ‘next week.’ Next week would be the time for family – Steve would just sort this next job and then it would be OK.
Often Steve was away overseas with buddies on golf trips or off watching some sporting event in another country. Any form of sport was worth watching. Following F1 was a real passion. Getting in to pit lane before the race start was a highlight.
Steve came home from one of these sojourns away, to be confronted by his wife. She delivered an ultimatum to him. Stop the boys trips and spend more time with the family, or else.
Steve was consumed with himself. He dismissed what he heard from his wife as just an idle threat, and went back to work. Having just returned from a trip, work was fun as his colleagues wanted to hear what he had got up to. Business was good and the money was still rolling in. In the next six months Steve said to himself, he would step back from work and start to spend time with the family. They had all that his money could buy, so he thought they would be pretty happy.
One day a few months later a friend rang Steve and said he was off to the Italian Grand Prix, and wanted to know if he’d like to come along. It was a two week trip. There were three of them so far, and the friend wanted to know if Steve would make up the four.
Steve consulted his calendar. There wasn’t much in the diary. He rang me to let me know he couldn’t make the next coaching session. His GM could look after the business in his absence. Steve said to me that he had worked to get to this place of having a ‘Commercially profitable business that could work without him”. Just like I had suggested to him.
I asked him what his wife thought about this trip. I was aware of the tension within the family. Steve was quite dismissive, saying to me she would get over it. She had before.
Steve had a great trip away, and even got into pit-lane on two of the racing days. He was ecstatic. It was all over social media. Especially Instagram, where he shared the pictures of him in pit-lane.
He and his three friends also got to have a holiday around Sicily. It was a place he had always wanted to go and see. He had read ‘The Godfather.”
When Steve came home, he found his house empty. The furniture was there, but the family wasn’t.
Steve wasn’t too worried – he thought they had gone away on holiday, without telling him. Funny he thought – he’d always let his family know when he was going away. Bit rude of them not to let him know.
The next day he went into work and found his team very subdued. He wondered what was wrong with them. He tried to ask, but everyone was very coy.
Finally his GM took him aside and had a quiet chat with him. The business was being closed down. His wife had taken the extra-ordinary step of hiring a legal team to get her half of the business. This had been going on for about six months and Steve wasn’t even aware.
He sat there stunned. He didn’t understand why his wife would do such a thing. After-all he had always been the provider.
Steve rang me to work out what he should do. I let him know he needed legal advice, not coaching advice. He also needed communication advice. He had the template for this. It had been 5 of our coaching sessions. I suggested he go and re-read it.
To his credit Steve did, and he had a huge BFO – Blinding Flash of the Obvious. It had been there all along waiting for him to open up his mind and be aware of what was around him.
Steve started to eat ‘humble-pie’ and acknowledge his deficiencies. He started speaking with his wife and children. He acknowledged to them that he had been selfish and an idiot. He acknowledged that he had put himself and his ‘lifestyle’ ahead of the family. He realised how stupid he had been.
Steve and his wife started to go to couples counselling. Steve realised what he had in family, and what he was nearly losing.
Slowly the relationship with his wife and children started to mend. Steve came back to coaching and we worked on his delegation and ‘work communication’ skills. He spent less time at the office and more time with the family. He went to his children’s sporting events. He took an interest in what they were doing at school and their progress. He now understood what they were doing, and he became very proud of what they were achieving and how his wife had kept all this together while he had been away, being an idiot.
The business continues to run without Steve being their full-time. He spends as much time with his family as possible. He now works with a local charity, helping them as well. Steve is happier now than I have ever seen him.
He realises the importance of family and how he nearly lost ‘everything.’ Steve now uses the business to fund his lifestyle with his family.
Work allows and gives you the ability to enjoy the personal lifestyle you want. Too many business owners have this round the wrong way, they live to work as opposed to working to live.