There’s a scene in the book ‘Atlas Shrugged’ where millionaire steel tycoon Hank Rearden comes home to find his wife throwing a small party with family and friends.
As he walked in the door his wife starts complaining about what a ‘fuddy-duddy’ he is. She explains to the group that he never wants to have any fun.
Hank is polite but he quickly retires to his office so he can finish some paperwork. The work of a business owner is never done.
Shortly after he closes the door he hears a knock. It’s his nephew. A young intellectual of high society who tells Hank he needs to be more generous. He explains how he is raising money for a cause and it’s Hanks duty to supply him with a donation.
Somewhat begrudgingly Hank pulls out his checkbook and asks the young man how big a check he was expecting.
The nephew politely stops him and says,
“Oh we don’t want a check. You see, you’re such a prominent capitalist that it would look bad taking money from you. Is there any way you could make a cash donation anonymously?”
For years that scene resonated with me for many reasons.
First, is how the family treats Hank. When you start to make a bit of money in life, people come out of the weeds looking for help. But for some reason there’s always an air of entitlement. You’re never treated as generous. Your contribution is expected. Especially with certain family and friends.
This manifests itself in different ways. You’re the one who’s expected to pick up the check at a meal. You’re the one who needs to make a contribution to every cause your third cousin thinks is important.
And when you’re stressed out and overwhelmed people tend to say, “He’s fine.” As if money and success solved every problem.
Second is how nothing Hank does seems to be good enough. He works hard to provide a great life for his family. And although they enjoy the fruits of his success it never seems to be enough. Yes we want the big house, nice cars, and designer cloths but you also need to be present for everything else.
If you work hard to provide a great life for your family it often means missing ball games, recitals and time at home with the family. Balancing a passion for your work with a love for your family is beyond stressful. If you don’t have a supportive family who understands the struggle, it can make life miserable.
Finally, it resonated with me because, as a husband and father, I could relate.
I hated being away from my kids all the time. I hated the fact that I was never present for them when I was home because I was always thinking about work.
I hated that my only vacations where ‘work vacations’ when I attended a conference or spoke at an event. I had built a multimillion dollar business but that business had become a prison.
Every time my wife complained about my absence I’d feel a little worse about myself. Every time I had to take a phone call at my daughters basketball game I felt like I was failing.
Fast forward to today. Last year, in addition to all the other travel and adventure I did, I also took 3 uninterrupted weeks off over the holidays.
And when I say 3 weeks off that’s what I mean. I didn’t check email, I didn’t check in with the team. I didn’t even think about work. At no time did I have to leave the board game or time away from my kids to put out some fire in the business.
So what changed? Well I got lucky. I meat a man who showed me how to build a business that works. A business that provides me the financial security I need and the time freedom to live the life of my dreams.
Today I work with business owners to help them do the same. So if you’ve got a business that owns you; if you’re feeling stressed out and overwhelmed with no idea what to do then I’d love to talk with you.
Book a free 90 minute call now and let’s figure out how to get your business unstuck.