A pause for thought on the subject of balance

Is what you do for a living the same as what you do for a life?

I’m frequently asked to comment on “the best business decision I ever made” and always respond with the resolve in 1996 to take 12 weeks vacation every year, whilst I was co-parenting a young family of 5 children.

My business life took me away from home during the week, frequently staying in hotels, so I missed many Parent-Teacher meetings, Sports Days, Christmas Concerts et al – but the extended times we had together during school holidays made up some of that lost ground.

Long hot summers in Tuscany and snow-filled New Year breaks in North Wales remain happy memories of those days.

Talking to owner-managers who are parents nowadays, I have a sense that the balance is better maintained that it was back in the 90’s – perhaps the Millennial and Gen-X parent is more savvy, more liberated from the Protestant work ethic that dominated my education and upbringing.

It may also account for the level of interest we are seeing (from all demographics) in the evolution of our remote expeditionary business 7explorers. We will be making a big announcement about our next event (for summer 2017) in the next couple of weeks.

Only once in the last 12 months have I listened to a burned-out 40 year old male describe his business as a monster that requires attention 7 days a week, even whilst on holiday.

Having said that, I continue to meet my fair share of tearful Female Principals who are trying to spin too many plates professionally and personally – the reflections on that lifestyle in my e-book of the same name (co-authored with clients) are as relevant now as a couple of years ago.

Perhaps the biggest change I’ve made in the last 3 years (since my 60th) is to ensure that as much attention is invested in what I do for a life as in invested in what I do for a living.

I’m happy to accept that I have learned a great deal from my younger clients in that respect – and for that I’m grateful.

No amount of success in business can compensate for unhappiness at home.


Published by

Chris Barrow

Chris Barrow has been active as a consultant, trainer and coach to the UK dental profession for over 20 years. As a writer, his blog enjoys a strong following and he is a regular contributor to the dental press. Naturally direct, assertive and determined, he has the ability to reach conclusions quickly, as well as the sharp reflexes and lightness of touch to innovate, change tack and push boundaries. In 2014 he appeared as a “castaway” in the first season of the popular reality TV show “The Island with Bear Grylls”. His main professional focus is as Coach Barrow, providing coaching and mentorship to independent dentistry.