Two-thirds of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. I share this statistic because it’s one that I’ve followed for many years during my career. One reason is that my family was living proof of this statistic. My mother raised four boys on a high school janitor’s salary. No matter how hard she worked and how careful we were, there never seemed to be enough for a cushion.
The second reason I keep tabs on this fact is that it’s a driver for me when I’m considering how I spend my time in service. Because of my upbringing, I know firsthand that families like mine found a way to make ends meet every month, day in and day out. And we weren’t alone.
Frontline workers account for about one in every four workers in the U.S. They are the heartbeat of an organization, often having face-to-face contact with customers every day. Chances are, many of them are living check to check. Every one of the boards I’ve chosen to serve has a deep bench of frontline workers who depend on inclusive decision-making at the top.
At every board meeting, I’m thinking about those twenty to thirty thousand employees who are impacted by the decisions I make with fellow board members. I’m influenced by the experiences I’ve had not only as an in-house executive but as the son of a mother who worked incredibly hard for every check she brought home.
As you explore how you’ll invest your time away from the office on your why:
- Consider what resonates with you and what’s consistent with how you fulfill your why at work. I’m inspired by the chance to make decisions I know will positively impact as many people as possible. That motivation pushes me to choose board opportunities where I can influence the lives of many frontline employees.
- Remember that the person you choose to be at work and life is only enhanced when they serve the same why. My pastor likes to say that we all have a pulpit. He tells me that my pulpit is the table of prosperity I seek to expand through leadership. I’m always looking for ways to add seats at the table—through work, family, and service.
- Reflect on how you spend your time. Time is the most valuable possession I have, and how I choose to invest it says volumes about me and whether I’m serving my why. Be ruthless about scrapping habits that tie up precious time you could be spending on more why-centered activities, such as tending to your family and cherished friends, learning a new skill, mentoring others, volunteering, or enjoying a new hobby—all things that enrich our lives and help us be more fully present for others.
So often we compartmentalize our lives when we could be nurturing every area by aligning both work and life with the same purpose. What you do from nine to five and outside of work can be two sides of the same why coin. They don’t have to be mutually exclusive. A successful life is one that integrates who you are and what you’re fighting for in every aspect of your journey. As you focus on your career path, don’t forget to make sure your personal life shares the same destination.
Live your why,
P.S. I find it’s easiest to keep my personal and professional lives aligned when I focus on one piece of wisdom each day. I call these bits of wisdom, “Daily Wins.” I’ve collected 10 of my favorites that I want to share with you.