IT Employment

You are your job. (And vice versa.) Sorry.


I know a few things for certain. One of them - after 30 or so years as a leadership coach and business executive - is that we cannot "compartmentalize" our lives.

This is not widely accepted. Time and again, I run into managers who don’t realize that how they behave 8 or 10 hours a day will inevitably impact who they become the rest of the time. And unfortunately many companies continue to push this thinking on their employees with training that directs them to, “Be objective, don’t allow your emotions to impact your decisions, and keep your personal life at home.”

You can try to keep your work life separate from your home life; or your personal issues separate from your professional situation; but it just doesn’t work. Not forever anyway. At some stage, who you are will show up in the ‘wrong’ place. To those who still believe that they can move from one role to the other and not take the events of the other part’s day with them, understand this clearly: This isn’t just naïve it can be dangerous.

Consequently, it makes a lot of sense to try to be as genuine as possible in both environments – at work and with your loved ones.

Of course, the image is pretty compelling– behave and deal with each environment’s issues in just the right manner. You may even think you know people who can do it: At work they seem cool and collected. Someone who never brings his baggage to the job. Always focused on the job. Alternatively, on the home front, they look like the perfect parent or spouse. Always nurturing and loving – never whining about the day at the office.

But these apparently-perfect creatures never succeed maintaining those roles forever. And the simple reason is - it can’t happen. No healthy person can control both environments perfectly and do it on an ongoing basis. The therapists and shrinks are pretty well aligned on this also. Aside from people with mental illness, there simply are no people who are able to completely and totally shut off the one side from the other for a lot of years without becoming very lonely or suffering career derailment. Sure some are better at ‘containment’ than others. But sooner or later it will catch up to everyone.

And then they get divorced, or fired.

At that point, these people who were so “perfect” start searching for some help. If they’re fortunate, they link up with a great professional who can help them find their bearings again. They get back to being authentic, and on with life without a lot more heartache and heartburn. If not, they react to this sudden change in other ways like booze, drugs, sex, and other destructive activity.

For a well-rounded, and fully satisfying life; I suggest you learn this simply truth. Recognize that you are a complex, well trained, feeling, and yet thoughtful individual. Learn to use your life skills in both your personal and your professional life and become more genuine.

How? Here’s a list of easy-to-get-moving ideas:

On the job:

1. Start learning to trust your gut or intuition in business, some things just don’t feel right and when they don’t listen to yourself

2. Act more like successful entrepreneurs do by becoming a little closer with those around you, get to know them a bit

3. Don’t be afraid to get emotional, after all you’re paid to have an opinion

4. Don’t get too full of yourself. People make mistakes and have bad days, when they do, note it but cut them some slack. And when they are great, note that too and make a big deal about it.

At home:

1. Don’t be a walking computer incapable of emotion – show some fun, some love, and a great deal of care for those around you.

2. Use the lessons you’ve picked up writing business plans to map out your financial situation and ensure it’s sound and growing

3. Count to 10 before responding to your loved one’s comments, everyone can have a bad day, so give her/him some slack

4. Go out of your way to talk about what happened on the job today, share your “other” life with those you care about.

Bonus:

5. Act with a little decorum, do you really need to live in those sweatpants every night?

Great leaders are authentic and passionate. So are great parents, great spouses and great friend. No coincidence.

John

Leadership Coach

About

John M. McKee is the founder and CEO of BusinessSuccessCoach.net, an international consulting and coaching practice with subscribers in 43 countries. One of the founding senior executives of DIRECTV, his hands-on experience includes leading billion d...

11 comments
Jaqui
Jaqui

I'm exactly the same in my personal life as at work. I refused to change just for the sake of a job. For some reason, people think I'm joking when I say I don't like people and want them to all die and leave me alone. I have news for them, I'm NOT joking.

Starrdaark
Starrdaark

Although you may think so, I, without any question, do not consider sex to be a destructive activity. At least not in and of itself.

sgamby_joejr
sgamby_joejr

My jobs (in random order, at random times based on and during the day): 1) Parent 2) Coach 3) Small Business IT guy 4) Helpful neighbor 5) Friendly person 6) Peer advisor 7) Good friend 8) Brother 9) Son 10) Professional And that's pretty much the top 10. So yes, I am my job and my job is me. I can't escape it and I accept it. Now when is it going to be time for an increasing number of larger corporations to accept it?

fox_iacmnf
fox_iacmnf

Isn't #5 at odds with everything else you say? How am I supposed to be "genuine" if I'm not even dressing comfortably in my own home?

rscholz
rscholz

thank you for a well written piece john, i completely agree. your views are a rare find in the technology business, in my 20 years of IT consulting experience i've found the field to be littered with emotionally challenged personalities, if your article helps just one of them reach a better understanding of their actions, it will be worth it.

dogknees
dogknees

I agree with what you say as regards being the same person in all your "lives". However, I don't really agree that the primary persona is the one defined by your work. It's like when someone asks "what do you do" (note the absence of the words "for a job". The answer should start with your family role, your hobbies and pastimes and the like. Work has to be secondary. Why? Because most of us have a greater influence on the future through our children and social roles rather than our work. Unless you're building the "next big invention (think the telephone, the computer, the theory of everything)" your influence through your work is less important and not as long lasting. In other words, I am not my job, my job is just one of the things I do.

tigerjim49
tigerjim49

Unfortunately, too many of us have to learn it the hard way. I had a little bit of help in that I (a 30-something male at the time) raised my 2-year-old daughter by myself. Kids will make you pay attention! They truly don't care about your tough day--they want to play with you NOW! People, learn this now. What he says is true. And thank goodness it is.

The Listed 'G MAN'
The Listed 'G MAN'

is not 1 to 10!! That is a sequence! You even say so later - "Top 10" Wow - I can even feel that heat from your face over here..Just how much was the doggie in the window?

karen
karen

That SHOULD be the way it is and in a perfect world, yes, my job would be secondary to my other roles in life. However, where do I spend the majority of my waking hours? Work. What has the largest influence on my quality of life? How things are going at work. True, I work to support my family and I try to keep that perspective when I have to make choices over which takes priority, but the sad fact is that the majority of my time is spent at work. So, when someone asks me what I "do." I tell them about my job. When they ask me what I love or what drives me or why I do what I do, I tell them about my family. :)

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

You are your life and all that it contains. If your job is all there is to it, you need a life.

dogknees
dogknees

You're right that it is the ideal, but shouldn't we at least try and live up to our ideals? We may or may not reach them, but if we don't even try, we're certain to fail.

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