On December 12 my father passed away at the age of 92 after a career that took him to the level of Vice Chairman of the Board of a Fortune 500 corporation. In thinking back over the time we had together I was presented with a picture with two sides to it. If you listen to his friends and neighbors they talked about how involved he was in the community and the business world. I can’t dispute that in any fashion. Over my life he had been involved in local politics including serving on the town commission. He was greatly involved ,along with my mother, in the UN Association.In his business environment he traveled over to Europe on many occasions.
If I flip the coin ,if you were, to the father side I get an entirely different picture. I remember very few events in school that he attended because work always came first. He overly pushed us to achieve based on his educational record. So why write this piece?
I am not looking for sympathy. Rather I am suggesting that there may be a large number of parents out there who fall into the same track. whether it is by choice or the culture of the organization they worked for, families were left for second place. The result is are we leaving a legacy as a great business person or a great parent? Or even more important have we found a way to meld the two. Is the legacy we leave behind that we have helped the world be a better place through demonstrations of compassion for all aspects of their lives.
The impetus to achieve this goal is as much the responsibility of the organization and HR as it is on the individual. We seek to get our talent engaged within our organizations,but we can’t accomplish that without a balance between work and outside life. we do not prepare our children for a future in the workplace when the model they have is that the primary expectations is work. Work at the expense of the rest of our lives.
So take a moment, as I have over the past several weeks and consider what legacy you are leaving behind. Think of ways how you can be of benefit to the organization and to your families at the same time. Think of ways to present the kind of model that considers the needs of the organization in balance with the needs of your offspring. The world will be a better place if you do.