This post originally appeared on LinkedIn.
Today is the best day of my life; I’m marrying the woman that I love after a long and difficult wait. “Wait a minute,” I can hear you say. “Isn’t this a Facebook-worthy post, and not a LinkedIn one?” Not at all. You see, in the past few months I left my career in government to co-found a new technology startup company, Red Tulip Systems. I left for many reasons, but the two most relevant here are that I was tired of being separated from my fiancée and I had her full support in turning our entire lives upside down right before our wedding, when we were already managing enough stress. Now we’re getting married today, the company is showing promise, and I’m personally happier than I’ve been in a long time.
“Fine,” you say, “but I still don’t see how this relates to my business.” Well, by prioritizing my personal life at least as much as my professional success, I improved both. Pulling back from the work environment I was in allowed me to strengthen the personal relationship that truly matters; with that strength I was able to make a better professional decision. Had I not focused on gaining a meaningful work-life balance, I would be in a worse place professionally.
This was a scary decision to make, and if you follow Liz Ryan (and you should), you know what to do with the fear. I focused instead on trust - trusting in myself, my fiancée, and our relationship, then I moved forward with what really mattered.
A lot is being said these days about work-life balance, and it’s a conversation that is long overdue. It can be difficult to overcome that fear of missing out - on employee output or productivity. You don’t have to trust in my example, although I think it’s a good one. Go out, read the research, and see how countries like the Netherlands achieve massive productivity while fiercely guarding their personal times, or what happens when you provide incentives for fathers to take equal parental leave (hint - you reduce gender-based wage discrepancy). Creating an environment where your employees have a better work-life balance isn’t altruistic, and it doesn’t destroy your business. It creates the kind of company where employees are fans of their company, cheerlead for it, and want to stay. Your employees are happy, and you’re happy.
Who doesn’t love a good win-win?
And to Beste, who lights up my all my days, thank you for making us such a great team. I love you forever.