Years ago I was working for one of the biggest consulting companies in the world. It was an amazing experience and I learned a lot from them, but one of the most important things I learned was that I was never going to advance in the organization. I didn’t have the dedication that was required to become a partner.
My boss at the time was striving to become a partner. He was driven, he was smart and he worked more than anyone I had met up until that point. He was at the office by 7am and routinely didn’t leave until 8pm. He made all the right professional moves, he played the game very well. The problem for me was that he had a young family at home, two or three kids and a wife, and he was facing an hour commute each way. He was sacrificing his family for his career, and that his valid choice. I knew however that it wasn’t going to be my choice.
He made partner and instead of ‘taking his foot of the gas’ so to speak, they expected he keep up this pace and add more to it. It’s great that you are running a multi-million dollar, extremely high profile project for the company, but have you brought in any new work? Who are you connecting with that is going to lead to more business for us this year? His stress level went even higher than it was previously and he lasted in the partner role for just over a year before he quit.
I met with him several years later and he was not happy with his life choices. He chose work over his family and his family suffered as a consequence. He missed the first few precious years of his children’s’ lives.
It’s a choice we all have to make and live with the consequences. Moving up in any organization requires putting in a lot of time, showing your skills and abilities, and a multitude of other factors. But it is not a gift, it is a product of a lot of time and energy that you put into the organization. This time has to come from somewhere and it mainly comes at the expense of personal or family life. Make the Little League game or stay for that important meeting? Be home for dinner or after everyone is in bed?
I have been challenged with this as well, but not to the same extent. Career progression is important to me but not as important as my family life. I like being able to have dinner with my wife and son. I really enjoy taking him to the bus, coaching his basketball team and his baseball team and I like to spend time with my wife. It’s a shame this has to come at the expense of upward mobility at work but it is my choice. I’m trading money and career for a lifetime of love and memories.