Yesterday my 5-year-old daughter Emma came into my office and asked, “Daddy, what are you doing?”
“Why do you have to work all the time?”
At that moment I looked at her and felt like it was important how I answered.
I had a couple thoughts and feelings swirling around… On one hand I thought, Man, maybe I do work too much. Do I tell her, “I’m working hard now so I can spend more time with you later”?
But then I reminded myself that no, I’m not a workaholic. In fact, it’s rare if I work over 40 hours in a week. And I work from home so I see my family in the morning, on my coffee breaks, at lunch and 45 seconds after I stop working.
Of course there are some days I have to put in some longer hours, but it’s the exception rather than the rule. So I realized that this feeling of guilt was not grounded in reality, so I dismissed it.
The other thought I had was to take this opportunity to help my daughter understand that work is actually a good thing. Not a “necessary evil” that must be avoided at all costs.
So I said, “Emma, I don’t work all the time. There are parts of the day and the week that I work and then times I don’t work. Plus, I enjoy what I do. Work is a good thing. I get to provide a service to other people and I get to make money so we can live in this house, buy food and stuff for the family.”
She just looked at me, smiled, and said, “I have 3 monies in my purse!” (Referring to the $3 she made doing projects around the house last week).
“Yes, that’s right. You did a good job working for that money. Doesn’t that feel good?”
The reason I share this little story with you is because I think it’s important to instill a positive and healthy view of work in kids. Usually when I hear the subject of work and family come up it’s always the same advice: make sure you don’t work too much or your family will suffer.
And that’s true. If you’re working 70-hour weeks every week you may have a problem (or maybe not, everyone’s situation is different and I’m not here to judge).
But my point is that I feel the old “don’t work too much” advice is shallow and unhelpful for most people, especially us entrepreneurs.
Instead we need to learn how to incorporate work and business into our daily lives in a healthy positive way. There are so many kids these days (man I sound like an old man already!) who have no work ethic. And then they enter the workforce and get resentful that they’re expected to work!
Some get so angry about having to work that they even take to the streets to protest people who have worked way harder than they could ever imagine!
Yes, it’s a crazy world we live in. And so it’s important our kids be raised with a realistic and positive view toward work. Otherwise they’ll become bitter people who disdain work, business and money.
My kids are young so time will tell how they turn out. But I’m doing my best (knowing it’s not perfect) to instill these values in them, one little conversation at time.