After 22 years, Microsoft employee Robbie Bach decided to leave the company, an action he tried engaging in a few times throughout his years there. Lured by the challenges of fine-tuning various versions of Microsoft Office, participating in launches, and the promise of big-time promotions, he forged on during those near-resignation moments. However, despite all that he learned and the many exciting changes he spearheaded, he still faced mounting work-life pressures along the way.
Ah, the age-old issue of work-life balance. It's something most everyone grapples with on a daily basis.
On Bach's recent LinkedIn post on the topic, he describes his feelings during one of those instances. "I was very frustrated with my own leadership, my inability to build a cohesive team, a project that was looking more and more like a train wreck, and the damaging effect all of this was having on my personal life," he writes.
He's not shy about how he took control of those important matters, though, stating that he's learned a great deal about "managing the pathways of [his] personal and professional life."
Being Comfortable With Letting Go
As such, he outlines his thoughts about these pathways in his aforementioned post, appropriately titled, "Knowing When to Walk Away." Although he shares five succinct thoughts, a couple struck me more than others. After all, having walked away myself from a New York City advertising career and being very familiar with the importance of choosing the wellness over workplace worry, his words truly resonated with me.
For example, Bach writes that knowing when to move on has a great deal to do with the environment -- specifically -- the people you work with. He writes, "if you look around and say 'I don't like the people environment surrounding my job,' then you know it is time to move elsewhere." He also suggests closely examining whether or not your career is truly aligned with your life's purpose. If not, he says that a change may be in order.
Thank you, Mr. Bach, thank you!
His thoughts echo mine exactly, and without a doubt, other people's thoughts about this issue. I touched on this in a recent post about realizing personal and professional success. In it, I suggested that people -- if they're in a situation to do so -- quit when their work environment isn't meeting their personal needs. This includes a constant barrage of unacceptable behaviors from rude colleagues, a boss that isn't open to new ideas (routinely), or others within the company who are bent on squashing your aspirations.
Family as a Priority, Not an Afterthought
Bach also hones in on something else that I find absolutely critical: not losing sight of the importance of family. His section about this is called, "Family First." It's there where he discusses the challenge of keeping the work-life balance pendulum in tact. He says that many people tend to blame a company, when the reality is that employers have more control and responsibility over this balance than they think. In the end, they often lean towards the business end of things, shunning family matters in the long run. But, he maintains that it's all your own doing.
"Like many issues, admitting you have a problem is the first step toward healing," he states. "Your personal life and the priorities you hold dear are an important part of your career path decisions, and you need to evaluate those in light of the job AND your own actions."
In other words, take a stand and do some serious assessing of your career and your life outside of your career. For me, this includes working just as feverishly on the work front as you do on the home front -- if not tipping the scales more in favor of the latter. Imagine providing your family a fraction of the dedication and time as you do perfecting reports, leading meetings, and overseeing presentations?
Family shouldn't be treated as an afterthought ("after work," "after this business trip," "after this all-nighter"). I'm a firm believer in his "Family First" notion.
Bach knows what he's talking about, and it's refreshing to see more people coming forward about the importance of work-life balance. It's all about being dedicated to your professional growth, without sacrificing your personal growth. That includes paying close attention to your own wellness, personal goals, and of course, the family and friends you love.
He ends his post saying, "When it comes to job and career re-alignments, timing is everything. Each of us must ask, 'Am I self-aware enough to know when my time has arrived?'"
Will you know when it's time to walk away?