FOE. It’s a phrase many of the entrepreneurs I work with use–“Family Over Everything”. Now when they say it, they have a more universal way of defining “family.” They can mean the very close entrepreneurial friends they’ve made, or their teams at work –but they all would agree that at the foundation of their family definition is their nuclear families at home. This is the common denominator in those that I see overcome hardship in this journey and find their path to new ventures. FOE.
So when I look over the photos of so many entrepreneurs with which I work, I think about work/life balance a little differently than I did in the past. My experience over the last decade with so many entrepreneurs is that this balance is rarely “daily balance,” but rather something that plays out over the long haul. The stories of “I come home at dinner and then go back to the office/grind” are certainly nice to hear, but rarely the norm. So many entrepreneurs experiencing growth are traveling for weeks on end putting betas into the hands of customers, or pitching at national events or meeting with teams overseas. So daily family balance seems impossible.
But what does seem possible is finding long-term balance. Finding time to celebrate success and take your family on a vacation. Finding a way to schedule around major life events, like graduation, prom and even key soccer games. When having an exit, actually striving to fulfill some of your family’s dreams before reinvesting it all in your next venture. While not 100 percent successful, I see that many very inspiring entrepreneurs find a way to do these things. It’s just that important to them.
This means setting boundaries, even on yourself. Not jumping the minute you get a shot to make an investor pitch, realizing that your team can handle more than you give them credit for while you are gone and realizing that life is about the process as well as the end goal. It’s frankly about growing up and realizing that life is short, and how you do this is as important (if not more) than what you do.
There is a reason we have brought yoga into our work with our entrepreneurs. I need it too. Finding that place where we look to ourselves for balance despite pressure from all directions is such a wonderful practice.
I fall a lot, as do they. But we keep trying. And I think that is what counts.
Joni Cobb is the president of Pipeline, an immersion fellowship where participants engage in a unique and rigorous year-long business leadership development program that blends workshop modules, advice from national experts, and a deepening of the relationships among new and current Pipeline Members. The aim is to undergo a life altering experience that also changes the direction and trajectory of their company and connects them to lifelong friends and allies.