“If you think you’re lonely now… wait until tonight, girl…”
Ah, Bobby Womack… I was listening to this song today and it got me thinking about stuff.
In the song he’s talking about a woman he’s with who complains that he’s never home, but when he is home for a while she complains that he doesn’t have money.
Yup. I started thinking.
First of all, I need to be clear here… my wife reads this blog, so I want to assure her that this isn’t going where she may think its going. I’m taking you in a different direction here, so please read on.
The song feels like a love song but sounds like a threat. However, I see it differently. The song this morning got me thinking about decision-making and sacrifice on the way up the corporate ladder. (I told you we were going in a different direction)
It’s about taking a giant step back and seeing the big picture.
That’s the problem. The woman Bobby’s singing to isn’t seeing the big picture.
I’d like to pose this question to you.
Would you rather spend the next 8 hours tired and miserable or take a nap now for two hours and feel great the rest of the day?
For me the answer is simple. Anyone who knows me well, knows I love a good nap. My kids on the other hand struggle with this.
I’m sure as you read the question, the answer is obvious to you also. Why wouldn’t you take time out now to be more productive later? It’s a no brainer… you would think. But when you apply that same logic to everyday life, the answers don’t seem as clear-cut.
Just like in the song, taking a break from work seems to have negative consequences. So we spin our wheels when the right decision is so simple.
Let me give you an example. Last week I was at a charity event sponsored by the bank. For me these events represent an opportunity to drink some free beer, fill my face with appetizers and chat with friends. I’ve never been good at networking in this type of environment. It doesn’t feel natural to me. I’m an introvert in that way. I’m not shy. I prefer one-on-one focused networking interactions rather than making small talk within large groups of strangers. However, many young bank employees use these events as networking opportunities. Usually, they’re employees in support roles or back-office roles looking to make the move to the trading floor. I made this move many years ago, so I’m often a magnet for young advice seekers at bank events.
One young guy who I’ve talked to before approached me on this evening. We talked about his current job and his job search. He’s a nice guy so, I gave him some advice and encouragement then went on to mingle a little more. Later on that night he came back with a friend he wanted to introduce me to. His friend was part of a group that got shut down. She was lucky enough to escape the lay-offs and find a position as an assistant to an executive in risk management. But her goal was to find a job in human resources. So armed with her list of executives to talk to she set out to network and land that HR job.
Being skeptical of this approach to networking, I asked her a bunch of questions. About her background, previous jobs, the schools she went to. I’m always interested in learning about why people do the things they do. I never realized finding a job in human resources was that difficult to land.
It turns out she’s a bright young woman with a degree in Sociology from a good school. It also turns out that it is that difficult to get a job in human resources at the bank. Who knew?
So I asked her, why don’t you just back to school? Do a Masters in business specializing in human resources. Seems plain as day to me.
I was expecting her to tell me that she was in the process of researching schools, saving towards tuition, studying for the GMAT or something along those lines. Instead she told me that she hadn’t thought of that, but she wasn’t sure it was worth it.
I immediately thought of my children. They will play and play and wear themselves out. Then they’re so tired and grumpy that they can’t enjoy any activity. I’ll ask them if they want to have a nap and they’ll say no they’re not tired. But I know a little time out to rest will make a world of difference.
Careers can work the same way.
Yes, in the short-term taking a break from the rat race can lighten your pocket-book. Whether you are going back to school, going on maternity/paternity leave, or taking a sabbatical. The financial hit can be great in the short-term. But how many people have you talked to that have said things like, “I’d make so much more money if I had a degree or diploma” or “if I had time to focus on it I could come up with a great business idea”? Even just taking time out to go on a vacation can make a big difference mentally, emotionally or physically.
Sometimes we need to stop in order to move forward. Spinning your wheels can be stressful and have a negative effect on your health and your career.
Like I said, it’s about seeing the big picture. The woman in the song didn’t see the big picture. Taking time off from work, spending time with your family and recharging your batteries. Those things will do wonders not only for your personal relationships but for your career. A short-term financial hit can produce a long-term financial gain if you take the time to look at the big picture.