Last year I wrote about the importance of marriage in “An Entrepreneur’s #1 Partnership,” emphasizing the need to prioritize your marital relationship above your business. But it’s easy to write about doing so, and quite another thing to actually live it out on a daily basis.
Entrepreneurs and employees are often tempted to focus more of their attention and energies on their business or job than the relationship with their spouse. As an entrepreneur, I can affirm the struggle this dilemma often presents. And if you’ve spent any amount of time in business, you know exactly why this is.
Our businesses present a constant set of opportunities, challenges, and other “urgent” matters, that demand our immediate attention. If you’re like me, it’s all too easy to allow these demands to overshadow everything else in life. Whether it’s our relationship with our spouse, our kids, our personal health, or perhaps even our spiritual walk with God, it seems that all too often, the urgency of the immediate drowns out the preeminence of the important.
Granted, there are instances when a scenario is truly urgent in nature, requiring our immediate focus or else catastrophic consequences could ensue. These rare instances are not what I am referring to. Rather, the “urgent” issues I am referring to are the unlimited number of lesser demands that present themselves on an all too frequent basis.
If we’re honest with ourselves, we can see this reality clearly, both in our own lives and sadly in the lives of others. But in the heat of the battle, it’s easy to ignore that internal nagging voice that continues to remind us that the urgent is once again supplanting the important. And when it does, it can result in our cancelling that special dinner with our spouse, or missing our child’s ball game, because a last minute “deal” demands we do so.
So how do we overcome this temptation so that we properly address the urgent without sacrificing the important? There are at least three truths we can embrace to overcome this “urgent versus important” dilemma:
Involve yourself in an accountability relationship with someone you trust implicitly, whether individually or in a small group. Be honest and transparent with this individual in a manner that allows him to provide honest feedback. It is a rare person who can critique his own actions and choices in such a manner that he will self-correct and recalibrate his life when he veers off course. An accountability partner will provide that much needed correction to help us bring the important back to a priority over the urgent. The book of Proverbs affirms this truth when it reminds us that “…in the multitude of counselors there is safety.”
The urgent will always be clamoring for immediate attention. The unexpected and unplanned seem to show up on a regular basis, and too often at the most inopportune times. And when the urgent rears it’s head, it seems all else pales in significance. You can likely identify this reality playing itself out over and over in your own life, if you think about it. So it’s critical that we begin to identify when the urgent has arrived and that we be prepared to counter this temptation with a predetermined course of action. Whether it’s one that you’ve devised on your own, with your accountability partner, or perhaps one such as the Eisenhower Decision Principle (named after President Dwight Eisenhower), have a plan ready to deploy when the urgent shows up and seeks to derail the important.
As hard as we try, there will be times when we succumb to the urgent despite our best intentions. One truth that we know about ourselves is that we often fail to live up to our own standards and expectations. It may not be that we intended to, but old habits die hard and we frequently revert back to our old self. But this is just another instance when we must simply acknowledge our frailty, both to ourselves and our spouse and/or family, and then recommit ourselves to steps 1 and 2 above. Meet with your accountability partner, evaluate your actions, and then learn from your mistakes.
I trust that you and I will continually remember these truths and we’ll take whatever steps we need to take in order to insure that we don’t wake up someday and realize that, while we were successful at accomplishing the urgent, we failed in the truly important areas of our life. including that most important relationship, our marriage.