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  • Writer's pictureTony Richards

It’s All Business and It’s All Personal

As published in the 9-2-11 edition of the Columbia Business Times

Everything today is moving faster than ever. As Baptist minister Henry Emerson Fosdick said in the early 20th century, “The world is moving so fast these days that the man who says it can’t be done is generally interrupted by someone doing it.”

Maintaining balance in the world-on-my-hip technological environment we live in today can be difficult. Everything in life seems to be going four times faster than ever, with eight times the responsibilities, 10 times the options, 20 times the problems and only half the budget.

When operating at this lightening-fast pace, we find that it’s easy for our lives to become unbalanced. An important part of leadership is being able to decide how much emphasis to put where and when. When we don’t make wise decisions, it creates an imbalance. That in turn creates distortion and breakage in our lives. When balance is restored, beauty and harmony are the result.

One of my pet peeves is the saying, “It’s not personal; it’s just business.” That ranks up there with some of the most ignorant sayings of all time. The fact is, it’s all personal, and it’s all business.

How many people do you think have never carried home a work-related issue or problem? Do people really stop and say to themselves, “Well, I can’t take this home to my wife or husband because it’s business and not personal”? Nobody does that. As a matter of fact, how many people ask their spouse or significant other, “How do you like your job?” We all do, and we get an answer, right?

Many people think of their lives as thousands of pieces that must be separated, captured and arranged, but at Clear Vision we’ve identified only seven categories to manage.

• Marriage and family • Financial • Personal growth • Physical • Professional • Social • Spiritual

Your life is integrated into these areas, and everything you do affects one or more of them. For example, if you spend an hour working out, you can’t spend that time at work. If you spend a dollar doing something with friends, you can’t spend it on your child or invest it.

No matter the size of your resources, every decision has some impact on these areas. If you give to one, many times you subtract from the others.

It’s good to memorize this list; that way, when you approach a decision, you can always review the implications for each category. “If I decide to take a vacation this year, what will be the financial impact, the impact on my family, on my personal growth and on my physical, professional, social and spiritual development?”

Suppose you just received an extra $1,000. Which area or areas are you going to impact with that resource?

This list gives you a constant, instant context for making decisions and keeping your life in balance. This is also helpful when trying to determine any area out of balance at the moment. Rather than trying to search through a vague feeling that something is missing, you can get clarity by asking yourself which of the seven areas might not be in balance or in which area you are feeling pressure.

With this list you have a great place to start regaining your balance and zeroing in on a particular area that needs your attention.

Here are some questions for self-analysis: • Which of the seven areas are getting more of my time, energy and money than necessary? • Which area have I been neglecting? • In which area do I feel the most pressure? Why? • What three specific, measurable, time-bound steps can I take to correct the imbalance I have identified? • What are the unwanted results if I continue living with imbalance in my life? • Am I willing to pay the price it will take to rebalance these areas? • Who or what would benefit most if my life regained balance? • Who or what would lose the most? • Who can help hold me accountable for my plan?

Remember, each area affects the others, and the next time you hear the lie, “It’s not personal; it’s just business,” you can recognize it for what it is.

Tony Richards is a leader in the area of talent development, selection and management. He is the senior partner of Clear Vision Development Group, a Columbia-based leadership coaching and development firm. Visit Clear Vision online at, or follow Richards on Twitter @ tonyrichards4.

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