A Case Study in the Integrated Life: Work-Life Balance While Traveling

1024 576 David DeWolf

One of the greatest challenges for any leader is to live an integrated life when their responsibilities require travel.

I was recently faced with this challenge.

Generally, I try to limit my travel to every other week. My goal is to be gone no more than three days (two nights) unless I am traveling overseas. I almost never travel on weekends.

Last week I broke all of those rules. A commitment I have as CEO collided with a commitment I have to one of the charities I support. The first half of the week I needed to be in LA for a conference. The weekend required me to be present for a board meeting and the committee meetings that preceded it. I was on the road from Tuesday night through Monday afternoon.

On Thursday I received a short email from my 11-year-old son Joseph:

“Hi Daddy. I am super nervous about tryouts. I want you to be here for them.”

My heart sank. Not only did I want to be there for him, I was astounded that he had the courage to ask. As an 11-year-old male, he’s not the most talkative person. This must have really meant something to him.

Unfortunately, there was no way for me to cut my trip short. The board meeting on Monday was one of only three each year. I have committed to being there and it’s a priority. My day on Saturday was chock full of committee meetings.

But being with my family for church and with my son for tryouts on Sunday was just as important.

I decided that to live the integrated life, I needed to go the extra mile. Luckily I had some extra (airline) miles, so I decided to take a quick trip home on Sunday.

Here’s how the weekend played out:

– Wrap up the conference and board the red eye at 12:13 AM from LA to Houston

– Land in Houston at 5:40 AM
– Take off for Tampa at 7:15 AM
– Land in Tampa at 10:30 AM
– Check in to the hotel, shower, and catch up on phone calls and emails
– Finance committee pre-meeting from 2:30 – 4:30 PM
– Board dinner at 5:00 PM

– Board events and Finance, Audit, and Compensation Committee meetings starting at 8:00 AM
– Board dinner until 9:30 PM

– Wake up at 4:45 AM
– Board plane and take off 7:00 AM
– Land at 9:13 AM
– Mass with the family at 10:30 AM
– Lunch with the family at Noon
– Warm up with Joseph for baseball tryouts from 2:00 – 4:00 PM
– Tryouts with Joseph from 5:00 – 7:00 PM
– Quick dinner with the family
– Board plane at 10:00 PM, land back in FL at 12:30 AM so that I could be present for Monday’s board meeting.

Some people may criticize me for traveling too much, being gone on the weekend, or spending frivolously on the extra airline ticket. I’m not sure I played this one perfectly, but I’m confident that I was able to live up to all of my commitments — as a father, as a CEO, and as a Trustee for an organization I believe in, all in the same weekend, despite being needed in three different states for every one.

As a leader, it’s important that you keep your commitments. It won’t always be possible to squeeze everything in, but, with a little creativity and a willingness to go the extra mile, it is often possible.

How have you lived the integrated life? What stories do you have about going the extra mile to live up to the commitments you’ve made in your own life?