Sometime ago, my lovely wife woke me up in the middle of the night and said, ‘Dayo, you know what? I feel neglected.’ I was speechless. She then went on to say that for sometime now I have been spending more time on my work to the detriment of the family. She further explained that I put all my energies into a high drive for achievement and career success. To be honest she was right.
One of the problems of modern day top professionals and peak performers is how to balance personal and professional life effectively. The demand of a highflying job with parenthood, spiritual, physical and intellectual growth is almost impossible these days. The truth is that true success requires a balance of personal and professional life.
This is a problem I have been battling with since I became an IT trainer, a motivational speaker and the publisher of a music and movie magazine (M & M magazine).
Sometime ago, I cultivated a bad habit. I retire to bed with my wife and as soon as she falls asleep, I crawl out of bed and return to the computer to continue my work. On one occasion I had a long telephone meeting with Kunle Adejumo, one of the Directors of M & M magazine from 1.00am to 4.00am and then went back to bed at 5.00am. I woke up at 7.00am and called him back again at 8.30am. Whilst I was on the telephone, my wife overheard our conversation and discovered that I was on the phone with him till 4.00am. She was stunned.
At that stage it dawned on me that I needed to seek for help on how to balance my professional and personal life. I turned to one of my mentors, Professor Pat Utomi, one of Africa’s top-flight strategy scholars, for help. He is a genius in this area. Professor Pat Utomi is a political economist and management consultant. He sits on the board of 36 blue chip companies (16 of them as Chairman). He was a Special Adviser to the President of Nigeria before he was 30. He is also a well-sought public speaker.
On the other hand, I am on the board of 6 companies (2 of them as Chairman) and still struggling with how to balance my personal and professional life. Pat Utomi has had a strong positive impact on my life since 1991. My meeting with him turned my life around and helped me put my life in proper perspective. I explained my predicament and how I needed counsel on how to balance my family and professional life. His response to me was, “Dayo what you need to do is to Sharpen You Personal Saw.” That made the difference and turned my life around.
Sharpen the Saw was coined by Dr Stephen R. Covey in 1989 in his groundbreaking
book: ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.’ Its message is that true success requires a balance of personal and professional effectiveness. To that end, it offers 7 strategies or ‘7 Habits’ for performing better in both areas through a life of self-knowledge, control and responsibility. And the seventh habit is to ‘Sharpen the Saw.’
The seventh habit that makes the other six last is sharpening the saw. This powerful idea can only be described by Covey’s word-picture: “Suppose you were to come upon someone in the woods working feverishly to saw down a tree. ‘What are you doing?’ You ask. ‘Can’t you see?’ Comes the impatient reply. ‘I’m sawing down this tree.’ ‘You look exhausted!’ You exclaimed. ‘How long have you been at it?’ ‘Over five hours,’ he returns, ‘and I’m beat! This is hard work.’ ‘Well why don’t you take a break for few minutes and sharpen that saw?’ you inquire. ‘I’m sure it would go a lot faster.’ ‘I don’t have time to sharpen the saw,’ the man says emphatically. ‘I’m too busy sawing!'”
Sharpening the saw is about renewing yourself physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally. It gives you time to recreate yourself and boost your confidence and be able to spend more time with your family.
Sharpening the saw means continually keeping yourself physically, intellectually, emotionally and spiritually fit. It means finding time out of your busy schedule to recreate yourself by spending more time with your family, continually learning new things, relaxing, going on vacation, praying, and meditating.
Practising this habit has a tremendous influence on me as a person. Looking good and being in shape affects my performance when I deal with people. It gives me confidence and makes me believe in myself.
Some people don’t even pay attention to going on vacation and/or relaxing, they think it’s a waste of time; but the truth is completely different. Relaxing would give me a great chance to put things in order and re-prioritise my plans. So, adopting the habit of ‘Sharpening the saw’ had great impact on my behaviour. Now I have been able to strike a balance and I have been able to create more time for my wife and children. I cannot forget the smile on the faces of my children when we went to Marriot Renaissance Hotel in Central London for the New Year break. They were on top on the world throughout the night and having family breakfast on New Year’s Day gave me so much fulfilment.
Children have a great need to communicate with their parents; but they will only
do this if they feel their parents are open to them and interested in hearing what they have to say. For this reason, I am now spending more time with my children. According to Steven R. Covey in his new book: ‘The 8th Habit: From Effectives to Greatness’, he stated clearly that: “Parenthood is the most important leadership responsibility in life and will provide the greatest level of happiness and joy.”
I have developed the habit of making time for my family everyday. I now spend less time on my computer and my mobile phone. The greatest regret people have at the end of their lives is that they did not spend quality time with their children when they were young or with their spouses. At the end of the day your family is the reason why you live.
What will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world, but loses his family? That is the reason I sharpen my personal saw. Thank you Professor Utomi for this priceless advice.