5 for 5 – “Remember that time when…”

29 Sep



Good morning all!


This past week news broke this week about why a very influential CEO left his role at one of the premier asset management firms in the world. Mohamed El-Erian resigned, unexpectedly as CEO of PIMCO, back in January of 2014, not because of any corporate wrongdoing, or a stellar better job offer (per se). He resigned, as explained in the article he wrote in Worth Magazine, because he came to the sudden realization that his work life was not sustainable to meet the needs of his family. His daughter called him out:




Please know…..I am writing this post, not as someone who has figured this out, but very realistically, someone who has to struggle with this battle even now. Admittedly I try to be an conscious of my travel schedule and work requirements as possible, but in the past several years I too have missed important events. I have come home from work, only to quickly eat dinner and turn right around to work on a presentation or attend a call. I have been so mentally exhausted at the end of a day as to have a short fuse with everyone.


When I read the story of Mr. El-Erian, and thought about my own circumstances, I began thinking about if I were to ask my family “Remember that time when ___________”, how would they fill in the blank?


Would it sound something like this from their point of view:

  • “Remember that time when we tried to get your attention only to be “shushed” when you were on the phone.”
  • “Remember that time when you were leaving on a long trip, but we hardly saw you the morning of your departure.”
  • “Remember that time when you promised to read me a book before bed, but by the time you came up, I had fallen asleep.”


Even writing these ideas, is chilling to me. Yet, I know that besides myself there are many people who have the same struggle and in some cases even more difficult if you are a single parent. Proverbially, none of us want to be in the latter years of our life and only have these things as the memories our children or other loved ones have of their time with us.


So where do you begin? I remember reading the article and thinking to myself “I wish I had his problems….if I made a $100 million salary, this would be a no-brainer.” First thing, it is all relative. Yes, that is A LOT of money, but in the end it came down to a realization and a choice. The realization in that the lifestyle isn’t sustainable, although without knowing it you may be believe it is in your loved ones best interest. The choice is, as Andy Stanley noted in one Leadercast sessions not long ago “What story do you want to tell?”


I know many senior leaders, who are spending their timing flying all over to rebuild connections…to claim some “Remember the time when..” memories. But for many of us, we have a choice right where we are at to make the choice now, to write a different story.


So how am I thinking about going about this and what can I recommend for anyone that has gotten this far:

  • Give up the idea of “balance”. While it may seem counterintuitive, the idea of balance bring the vision of scales and constantly trying to keep the time 50-50. A better idea I have heard from John Maxwell and to an extent Todd Henry is harmony. You will have seasons of busy-ness at work and likewise busy times at home. Give up on the perfection of trying to balance and go for meaning and maximizing in both areas.
  • Plan ahead. Some people will say “file this under no-duh.”…if so, good. But if you find, as I do, that you are not fully aware of all of the events of your family, get over yourself and do the homework. Find out when band concerts are. Is there an important soccer game. Is your Mom’s 50th birthday coming up? I admit…..I am terrible here, but as much as possible we can all do better by being as diligent about being up to date on family events as work events.
  • Start small. As I have said in past blog posts, sometimes we fail to act because we think the gesture is too small. Spend an hour coloring or reading with a child. Honestly if you want a zillion great ideas, get a Pinterest account and search crafts…there no more excuses. Call someone out of the blue, just to say hi. Again, you don’t have to plan a vacation to the Caribbean, your time and your energy will be noticed no matter how large or small. Take your kids or spouse or friends or parents on a “date outing”. I say outing because sometimes we can’t always do a date night. May be it is coffee in the afternoon. A trip to the bookstore. A bike ride.
  • Be there….completely. Ditch the mobile devices. Do I need to say more??? Be fully there.
  • See what other areas of your life you can optimize or cut out to return more to the people you care about. Do you need to work out 7 days a week? Do you really need to golf again this weekend? Can you be ruthless about your time in work, get really organized, and free up more time that way?
  • Have fun. The goal is connection, not perfection. As a good friend, and coach, told me recently, when we boil it all down, our lives are about connecting. Don’t beat yourself up if the paper mache dinosaur you make falls apart or you do pick up a quick call once. Keep getting better. Apologize. You never know you might begin writing a new story with those you care most about.


What are your thoughts? Any suggestions on how you are getting better about this? I would love to hear from you…


Here’s this week’s 5 for 5:


How to Apply Lateral Thinking to Your Creative Work – by Shane Snow – via 99U


SO WHAT: Lateral thinking is about reframing the question. As the article says, “not with playing with the existing pieces but with seeking to change those very pieces.”

Tag: Creativity


None of this makes sense – by Seth Godin – via @thisissethsblog


SO WHAT: We are in one of the greatest periods ever for learning. Do not wait for someone in HR or even your manager to develop your learning plan. Be curious. Find things you are passionate about. Explore all over the internet. There are tons of wonderful, FREE information being shared by amazing thinkers every day!

Tag: Learning


Debbie Millman On The Courage To Fail At Doing What You Love – by Carey Dunne – via Fast Company Design


SO WHAT: Courage, not necessarily confidence, enables us to overcome the fear of creating the lives we truly desire. Please watch the ~7 minute video.

Tag: Creativity, Courage


The WTF!? Framework – by Sina Mossayeb – via Medium


SO WHAT: When encountering WTF situations, realize what you are facing, it may be exactly what you are looking for! I love the 2 x 2 matrix – don’t miss it.

Tag: Courage


Why We Hide Some of Our Best Work – by Ethan Bernstein – via Harvard Business Review


SO WHAT: Managers, strive less to dictate content. Let your team tell their story and express their creativity.

Tag: Leadership


All the best,


2 thoughts on “5 for 5 – “Remember that time when…”

  1. I really enjoyed this entire post. And the Debbie Millman video was outstanding – one of the most truthful and inspiring monologues I’ve honestly ever heard. I think as humans, we instinctively settle. And it can take every ounce of courage we have to fight settling. It’s videos like these that help wake up that courage.

    Thanks for this awesome blog Kevin!!

    • Brooke, thank you and I completely agree about the Debbie Millman video. It is a gem tucked away in a blog post.

      Also, you couldn’t be more right about settling. A big challenge for me is learning to be content. But content is not complacent.

      Thanks for all of the comments. 🙂

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