Deshpande on Entrepreneurship-Part-21: On maintaining work and life balance

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Desh Deshpande

By Desh Deshpande

(Editor’s note: This is Part-21 of the weekly video column with philanthropist and serial entrepreneur Desh Deshpande, with excerpts from his book “On Entrepreneurship and Impact.” This column appears every Monday.)

“There is no such thing as work-life balance. There are work-life choices, and you make them, and they have consequences.”  –Jack Welch

Desh Deshpande

Entrepreneurs often come to me with this dilemma – “If I focus too much on my work, I lose touch with the other parts of my life, like family, but if I don’t focus, i’m afraid I might not get much done. How do I find the balance between the two extremes?”

My answer boils down to one statement:

Simplify your life!

What does that mean?

You have to be very clear on what your priorities are,

They can’t be more than two or three things.

Otherwise, you are doing too much.

During my startup days, I had only two key priorities a) my startup and b) my family. I deliberately refrained from activities that my friends were involved in; like  playing golf, family vacations or going to the movies.

So many smart people fall into a trap where they do a hundred different things and justify it all by relating it back to their priority number one. For example, when running a company, even a few silly decisions you make could be justified by saying that it’s important for the company. All that does is create more activities, most of them meaningless in the long run.

Clear thinking and clear priorities is the path forward towards maintaining balance.

I heard this quote a few years ago and it resonated with me a lot:

“Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling some five balls in the air. You name them – Work, Family, Health, Friends and Spirit and you’re keeping all of these in the air.

You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four balls – Family, Health, Friends and Spirit – are made of glass. If you drop one of these; they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged or even shattered. They will never be the same. You must understand that and strive for it.

Work efficiently during office hours and leave on time. Give the required time to your family, friends and have proper rest. Value has a value only if its value is valued.”

–              Bryan Dyson, former CEO of Coca Cola

A lot of people make mistakes in this area of their life. I personally know many successful people who don’t spend enough time with their family or kids and are left with only the rubber ball after a meaningless success.

In order for you to be able to manage your responsibilities and maintain that balance, it will take effort, but it’s worth it in the end.

(About Desh Deshpande: During his entrepreneurial career spanning over three decades, Gururaj “Desh” Deshpande has built several companies. He has injected his passion for innovation and entrepreneurship into a number of social impact initiatives in India, the USA and Canada. He has been recognized for his entrepreneurial accomplishments by many institutions including being named co-chair of President Obama’s National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship. He currently also serves as a Life Member of the MIT corporation. He resides in Boston together with his wife, Jaishree.)

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