I have recently finished reading a book called Chasing Daylight – written by Eugene O’Kelly just before he died in September 2005. At the age of 53 he was diagnosed with inoperable and incurable brain cancer and given 4 months to live.
When diagnosed he was in his prime – CEO of KPMG and father to two beautiful daughters and with a loving wife. The lessons he shares about living consciously are amazing and he challenges each of us to consider putting energy in rather than giving up time.
He refers so eloquently to how he needed a new way of thinking about and looking at the world and at his own suddenly shockingly abbreviated stay in it. He refers to the challenges he was facing in the firm to change the culture and bring about a better work life balance. Sound familiar……many leaders within so many organizations and firms are still pursuing the same ambitions.
Eugene explains that commitment in the business world has come to be equated with time – it is measured by the hours you are prepared to work. By how much time you take away from your family. He claims that if you gave away huge amounts of your time then it follows that you have exhibited commitment. If you did not give so much time then it followed that your level of commitment was judged as inadequate and you might be labelled as lacking in loyalty and drive. His recent experience had brought about exploration around this concept and he claimed that commitment was not about time, not about reliability and not about predictability. He concluded that commitment is about depth, it is about effort and especially about passion. Commitment is best measured not by the time one is willing to give up but more accurately by the energy you are prepared to put in – by how present you are prepared to be.
And my challenge to business people has always been why does it take something so bad to happen for change to be initiated? Why do we have to wait for such an imperative before we are prepared to be courageous and stop accepting the status quo?
Eugene acknowledged at the end of his book that had he chosen to role model better work life balance himself as opposed to bringing in a consultant to tell them what to do to change the culture then maybe he could have initiated far more change throughout the business. What a powerful insight for courageous leaders to learn from and leverage from.