Strike a balance; get out and get a life
By Col. Scott Henderson, 45th Launch Group commander
/ Published March 20, 2008
CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. -- We've all seen it ... the coworker who always seems overloaded or the boss who is at work until all hours of the night.
You know the one ... they can't get to the unit workout due to the critically important task they are working for the boss. No time to have lunch with the troops - too busy. They don't make it to the promotion induction ceremony - can't break away from the office but promise they'll be there next month. These same diehards miss out on their kid's soccer game claiming they'll make it tomorrow for certain. Sure, each of us has been there working late on a project or prepping for an inspection, but these folks make it a habit.
To make matters worse, now not only do many of us spend too much time at work, but we rarely take the chance to relax even when off the job. Information technology has created one more way to eat up precious down time. The cell phone is a constant companion or even worse a Black Berry or some other form of instant messaging or e-mail. The jaunt to the park with the kids has turned into a quick update from the folks at the office or even a means to task subordinates for information. Does any of this sound familiar? If so, it may be time to do some self-reflection to gauge if you've got proper balance in your life.
Columbia University president Lee Bollinger claims "Life is almost never perfect, only in balance or out of balance." I think he's on to something here. I've personally always admired those leaders who could get the mission done, yet do it without sacrificing time with their family, giving up their weekends or sidestepping their fitness time. As a leader, balance is especially important since your best Airmen will try to emulate your actions. If we condition our young enlisted troops and officers to believe success is measured by the number of hours worked, we set them up to burn out before reaching their full potential.
The Japanese have a word 'karoshi' - which means 'death by overwork.' I'm not suggesting we are working people to death, but we must be very careful we do not set our troops up to fail in reaching their long-term goals by pushing them for short-term gains. If our troops see us thrive in achieving our mission and taking care of our people, while at the same time taking care of ourselves, they will be much more inclined to stay the course through a long and prosperous career.
As leaders and valued members of the wing, don't be afraid to call for a little balance in the workplace. Take time to get together as a unit. Hit the gym each day to clear your mind. Make sure you set aside time to enjoy those once-in-a-lifetime family moments. Push the diehards out the door at the end of the day. Believe me, we've all seen leaders who ace the mission yet find a way to stay balanced - you can be that type of leader for your team. Bottom line - get a life... it will influence your folks for years to come.