Leadership

How to Keep Family the Main Thing

Running a family business can be very time-consuming for parents with kids. The best choice any parent can make is to simply be there for his or her children.
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Passing on a Legacy

Running a family business can be very time-consuming for parents with kids. The best choice any parent can make is to simply be there for his or her children. It doesn’t matter how busy you are or what you do for a living—whether you run a multinational corporation or put in eight hours a day on an assembly line in a factory. Nothing you do can possibly be more important than spending time with your children.

Writer Paul Lewis puts it this way: “When I ask older dads what their greatest regret is…and I ask this often…I have never heard, ‘I regret I did not pursue my career more intensely,’ but lots of men say, in one way or another, ‘I regret that I did not take more time for my children when they were young and available to me and craved interaction. What I traded for those moments was not worth it.’”

Lee Iacocca was recognized as one of America’s top corporate executives of the 20th century. Among other accomplishments, he was credited with rebuilding the Chrysler Corporation, bringing it back from the edge of bankruptcy. Yet he says he always considered fatherhood his most important job. “I’ve seen a lot of executives who neglect their families, and it always makes me sad,” he wrote. “Hard work is essential. But there’s also a time for rest and relaxation, for going to see your kid in the school play or at a swim meet.”

He adds that, “If you don’t do these things while the kids are young, there’s no way to make it up later on.” He concludes, “I’ve had a wonderful and successful career, but next to my family, it hasn’t really mattered at all.”

 

Someday Is Today

Evangelist Billy Graham first gained international fame almost 70 years ago during a spectacular series of meetings in Los Angeles. Thousands of people, including many movie stars and other celebrities, came to hear Dr. Graham night after night for weeks. As the series entered its eighth week, Graham’s sister-in-law and her husband came to Los Angeles, bringing a baby with them. The evangelist commented that the little girl was cute and asked to whom she belonged.

His sister-in-law’s mouth dropped open in surprise. “Why…you,” she replied. Graham had been away from home so long that he did not even recognize his own daughter, Anne. That night the great evangelist resolved that he would spend more time with his children.

As authors Henry and Richard Blackaby say, “No one could fault Graham for his work ethic or his godliness, but every (parent) could learn from his disquieting experience.” Please don’t make the mistake of thinking that you’ll spend more time with your children “someday,” because now is the only time any of us has.

 

Maybe You Don’t Gotta

Mike Martz, the former head coach of the St. Louis Rams of the National Football League, looked back over his children’s growing-up years and regretted all the hours he spent away from home. “I was so goal-oriented,” he said. “Gotta do this, gotta go, gotta go, gotta go. When I turned around and looked back, the years had flown by so quickly. The kids were grown, and I said to myself, ‘Whoa, let’s put the brakes on and enjoy this thing as we go.’”

He added, “That’s what happens in coaching; you can miss half of your kids’ childhood. You have to include them in your life, and it’s hard to do when you spend so much time at work.”

I don’t know who said this originally, but the bottom line is simply this: “Keep the main thing the main thing.” And the main thing for parents is to be there to teach your children about life.

Pat Williams Orlando Skyline_BWPat Williams is co-founder and senior vice president of the NBA’s Orlando Magic as well as one of America’s best-known sports executives. Williams is also a devoted father to 19 children, 14 of whom are adopted from four foreign countries. Connect with him at PatWilliams.com or on Twitter at @OrlandoMagicPat.


This article appears in the April 2015 issue of i4 Business.
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