January 2nd 2020 marks my 30 year anniversary for my job. I began work with Price Waterhouse, which became PricewaterhouseCoopers; IBM purchased the consulting division in October 2002. So I have 30 continuous years of work history in effectively the same job. It has allowed me to study financial systems and ledgers very deeply.
My Children’s View of My Work
On the day of my anniversary, I was on vacation with my family in Puerto Rico. We were having a wonderful time. I wanted to include my family in my celebration, and my oldest daughter suggested I interview each of them and ask them what I do for work. For all the time I spend with them, and for all the time I spend on work, their answers are–predictably–quite short.
I don’t think there is anything wrong or unnatural about that. Just like multi-dimensional analysis of data is more interesting that just one variable, the multi-dimensional nature of our lives make them more interesting as well. Work, recreation, family, community, education, service…it all adds up to such a wonderful set of potential choices in our lives.
In this week’s episode, though, I tell two stories about the relative importance of our families verses our work.
Hole in the Water
A friend years ago told me that if you think you’ll be missed at work when you leave, take a bucket, fill it with water, put your arm into it, and pull it out as quickly as you can.
The hole you leave in the water is how much you will be missed when you are not at work any longer.
In my years on projects and at work, I have found that very true. No one is indispensable; people at work always find a way to fill in or adjust course for almost any departure.
Transactions verses Relationships
A second story comes from an observation from Greg Forsythe. He noted in speaking of a coworker that the individual seemed only interested in transactions, not relationships.
I have thought of that often as I have engaged in transactions, like purchasing something at a store. We don’t engage in transactions with any expectation of a relationship. At times relationships develop from them, but more often they don’t. And to some, a transaction is an opportunity to take advantage of another party without fear of a long lasting impact.
I am very, very fortunate to have so many long lasting relationships from my work. As I have noted elsewhere on this blog, trust drives efficiencies–even in transactions–that can’t be imagined by those who don’t have deep, long lasting, trusting business relationships.
Given the increasing length of life expectancy, and the growing ubiquitous wealth in the world, our isolation caused by technology, it is clear to me that nurturing long lasting relationships–particularly in our families–will contribute more to our happiness in life than nearly anything else we can do.
I have a personal blog, a complement to this my professional blog. If you’re interested more in my career, you can find more information on Kip On Character.
In 1998 I was under some particular stress in my work from travel, and other things. In discussing it with my wife, Kari, I said something about my career. Kari stopped me and said, “Kip, this isn’t your career. This is our career.” She was absolutely right.
She has kicked me out of the house to go do the work for years: “Oh, so you’re afraid of the work are you?” is a comment I have heard more than once when some new challenge was before me. I have been amazed as I have described problems to have her give me advice that is so clear when she could know so little about what was going, and so perceptive.
She takes primary responsibility for most of the joy I feel in all the other dimensions of my life.
Don’t Be An Island
No man (or woman) is an island. Build relationships. Be trusting. Work hard. Learn, and become smart. Laugh, and forgive quickly. Absorb friction. Solve problems and add value.
Work can be fun, but families can be forever.
Watch all episodes in order at the Conversation with Kip Playlist