Volume 1, Number 9
July 22, 2005
In this issue:
Summer is in full swing in the NorthCountry. The season is cooking over at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center - the New York City Ballet has only a few days left, and the Philadelphia Orchestra will be sweeping into town for the month of August. While Danielle and I have been to a few ballet performances, we've yet to get to a rock & roll show this year. We missed the Dave Matthews Band for the third year in a row, though neither of us really misses dealing with the crowds. Maybe we are getting just a little older...
On the gardening front, the lilies are blooming, the first "Sungold" tomatoes have been harvested, and my tomatillo plants are proving to be more robust and productive than anticipated, putting the press on the annual Anaheim chile crop.
Sooo... with all the cultural temptations, gardening, family and other summer-ish activities - to say nothing of the Tour de France - it's a wonder I get any work done at all, eh? Fear not, good reader, for my office chair is well warmed.
Perhaps a bit too well warmed...
All of which brings us to this months feature story, "The Office Door."
For this issue, I encourage you to print out your copy of DadsNews and read it someplace pleasant, preferably outside of your own office, maybe with a cold drink in hand...
If you're not yet a regular DadsNews subscriber, then accept this invitation to jump aboard! ...And will you kindly pass DadsNews on to others folks?
As always, thanks for spreading the word - I truly appreciate it!
Keep those virtual cards and letters coming - I love to hear from you!
Feature Story: The Office Door
One of the pleasures of working at home is the commute.
On an average day, I wander downstairs for breakfast, take Cai out to meet either the school bus or the camp bus - depending on the season - and return to the kitchen for a cup of coffee. Then I rev up my feet and go back upstairs to begin my work day...
Paradoxically, one of the less-than-pleasurable aspects of working at home is that the office is accessible 24/7, 365...
Sure, it's wonderful to have it all at my fingertips. It's very cool to look out my window and see what's popping in the new lily bed in the summer or to watch the snow falling in winter. I'd be the last to complain about having 'round the clock access to a (normally) well-stocked fridge. The rent ain't bad, either, and on most days, my landlord - you know, the guy who wears my shoes - is a pretty reasonable fellow.
...Except when he's not.
I'll come clean here: My office is a tempting place to be - and more often than not, I have given in to the urge to cross that threshold and do "a few minutes" of work. I do, after all, love what I do.
Over the past few months I've noticed that I've been somewhat less than conscious in going through that door...
"Hello, my name is Ken, and I spend too much time in the office..."
I have my week set up so that I have three days to spend with my clients. Mondays and Fridays are generally set aside for travel, catch-up, writing and planning. I made it a point to arrange for plenty of father-son time, ending appointments and calls right around the time Cai steps off the bus.
In theory, this is all great stuff. Looking at my calendar - and knowing the value I place on fatherhood and my relationship with my son - one would think I've got it nailed. On paper, I certainly look like a real uber-dad - a veritable Bull-Goose of work-life balance - a paragon of daddy-dom who swings Steven Covey's sharpened saw of "what matters most" with the best of them...
Up until nöw, it hasn't quite worked out that way.
It didn't take long for me to discover that I'm not particularly good at leaving loose ends untied. In fact, I found that the sound of a spinning hard-drive sings enough of a siren song to pull me over the side and through the office door...
Truth be told, I'm nöw ready to be tied to the mast - I really want to be tied to the mast! The song of good work is very sweet... and unless I've made specific plans to work when the rest of the family is at home, going through that office door lands me on the rocks.
I want to be very clear that the rocks don't belong to either Danielle or my son. No one is throwing them at me or dropping them in my pond. Those barnacle-encrusted boulders are all mine, thank you very much.
This, in a nutshell, is an example of what happens: The door is open and I just happen to float up the stairs while my son is enjoying an afternoon snack. I continue to float right into my office, mysteriously landing directly in front of my computer. Since there is something deeply - um, ah - compelling in need of my "immediate" attention, I am drawn in. I float into my seat, slide my keyboard drawer open, and begin...
Several minutes later, I hear footsteps coming up the stairs. I'm quickly reminded that I'm not a hermit living in a well-lit cave with broadband internet access...
This wouldn't be such an issue were it not for the fact that I love both my family and my work. Things get dicey when I start to play them against one another, when I make up that there is a sudden, desperate time shortage and the things I'm working on need my attention at... this... very... moment... or else!
Or else... what?
I watch as I slip into an unconscious fog of work - where distractions, usually human - become enemies that must be stopped at the gates of the city. Anyone who crosses the line of my office door becomes the instant recipient of a not-so-subtle scowl that, I've been told, doesn't really serve up much in the way of warm fuzzies. (More like sharp, icy something else that begins with an "f...") At times such as this, my inner critic, a rather dark being who sees the world only in black and white, informs me that "It's us or them... Only one can survive!"
In these moments, the critic's logic, which also that tells me "You must do this (whatever "this" is...) nöw" smells a bit like a dead rat.
I've heard it said, time and time again, that "children are older for a lot longer than they are young." In the context I first heard this truism, it was an argument for getting out there and force-feeding a legacy while the kids were growing up. You could, after all, bank on having time with your children once they reached adulthood. In their later years, the reasoning went, they would be more likely to reflect upon, understand, and accept the actions that, in the eyes of a child, put walls around the adult world and excused a parent from engaging. After all, "this is work and this is important..."
While there is some truth to that logic - there are times when work simply needs to get done - there is also truth to the magic of a childhood witnessed. From what I've experienced so far, the magical time passes quickly, and once it's gone, there just ain't no replacing it...
I've watched too many men discover that while they were at slogging away at work, their kids somehow became teens or young adults. I'm determined to do my work and spend my son's childhood with him - watching the changes that happen in him day to day. After all, I designed my schedule to give me conscious time - quality and quantity - with my family, especially on these lazy summer afternoons...
Cai will be seven years-old in another month. Six went by a bit fast for my taste, and I have it on authority that the coming years (even though there really is no time shortage) won't be slowing down. With that in mind, and with a few rare exceptions, I'm declaring my office door officially closed once the bus arrives.
If you want to reach me between 3:30 and 9 PM, leave a message - I'll call you back...
Kids, a wise man told me, are younger for a lot less time than they are old... Spread the word.
Quote of the Month
"Grown-ups never understand anything for themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them."
Antoine de Saint-Exupery
"A Better Way to Work"
The heart of any fulfilling, successful and sustainable business flows best from deep within the heart of those creating it...
"A Better Way to Work" is a juicy, lively 5- 7 Month intensive program for men, women or couples starting off in pursuit of their Life's Work. Send me a note or gimme a ring at 518.580.0550.
Mark Brandenburg and I have put together an audio CD - "Ten Secrets of Effective Fathering." Drop me a line to learn how to get one...
More cool stuff coming at Coachville's "Awesome Dads" community! Lots happening - including "A Hero's Journey for Parents." Run over and have a look-see...
More Fatherly resources are available on the Cirrus site.
On the coaching front, I'm setting up sample appointments for the first two weeks in August and early September. Ready for a 45-minute test drive? Let's set it up! On the house, of course!
Feedback for DadsNews - or a simple "howdy!" - is always welcome. Send me a note!
More cool stuff is available at the Cirrus Leadership website!
Next issue of DadsNews: week of August 8, 2005. Until then, I dare you to close your office door... Just to see what shows up!
DadsNews ©2005, Kenneth Mossman, Cirrus Leadership® - Use and distribution permitted and encouraged, providing attribution is... well, attributed!