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.


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.


Leadership Coach