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How to Obtain Personal and Professional Balance: A Journey of Separation

In business today, leaders and organizations have to be more aware than ever of how their employees balance their work and personal demands. Organizations are constantly focusing on how to improve production, profits, and performance, while at the same time maintaining a high level of morale. The issue is the search for personal and professional balance.

As there are no definitive parameters for measuring balance, the real goal should be personal and professional separation. In the search for this delicate equilibrium, a leader must first understand why separation is key and understand the imbalances that can occur when personal and professional lives overlap.

Why Separation?

As technology has revolutionized the business landscape, many professionals no longer leave their work at the office. This causes many people to feel that they spend all of their time working or on call — regardless of the location. At the same time, many parents are prioritizing attendance at their children’s events and family meals but remain tethered to work electronically. As a result, many people are doing two things at once — and doing neither one very well. How many times have you seen parents out for a meal with their child and their attention is devoted to their smartphone? Or perhaps that is you? When your personal and professional lives overlap in this manner, both can suffer.

In fact, problems can make more problems. If an employee is experiencing personal issues, such as marital problems or the loss of a loved one, it can be extremely distracting to say the least. Personal issues can cause employees to be withdrawn and less effective, costing the organization and also impacting other employees. When this happens, no one wins. On the other side of the coin, if leaders are having tough times at work and bring their pain, stress, and frustration home, they can potentially take it out on their family, which negatively affects their home life.

So How Do You Do Both?

Jobs frequently require people to work late, put in extra hours, and spend days on the road away from the family. This is because the job needs to get done, and professionals understand that they may have to miss a child’s event or be away from home at inopportune times. To be successful in business a person must make sacrifices.

At home, most professionals today work to provide for their family, and they feel that their family or personal life is the most important thing to them. Moms want to be moms, dads want to be dads, and people want to be who they are other than what their business card states.

So how do you do both?

  • Be present at work: When a person is at work they need to be at work, no matter their family dynamics or problems; they must learn to leave them at home. The one thing that can make any family problem even more difficult is for that person to lose his or her job because personal issues are affecting performance.
  • Be present at home: When a person is home with family, he or she needs to be present. Leave your phone, uniform, or suit jacket at the door. Just as the company that pays the employee’s salary deserves that employee’s very best, the families deserve mom or dad’s very best, too.

Leader’s Responsibilities

In many organizations, leaders may not deal with a struggling employee appropriately, which may result in turnover. A strong leader must sit down with that employee, with empathy, and share the consequences of his or her behaviors if no change is seen. The leader can also explore options available to the employee, if there are any, but the key is to directly deal with the issue.

Some people may find this behavior harsh, but in reality it is the exact opposite. The leader needs to help the person so that he or she can get better or have enough personal time and space to go home and resolve the issues. To allow a person to suffer and ultimately destroy his or her career is selfish. When people don’t have personal and professional separation, they will feel overrun and ineffective in all things. This causes employee burnout and a difficult home life.

In leadership today, a leader must be clear in communicating expectations to the team. To be successful, a leader must have employees who are able and willing to do what it takes to achieve success. This only happens when all of the employees are at their best. Separating personal life and work does not eliminate the personal side of business — it actually strengthens it.

The greatest achievement is when a person is doing a job he or she loves and has a family that returns that love. The goal is not to sacrifice one for the other; rather it is to succeed at both. One way to do that is to separate them so that neither is affected negatively by the other. Here are a few tips on ways to implement triggers for you to remember to be present:

  1. Never walk into your home while on the phone.
  2. Change from work clothes to home clothes immediately upon arriving home, so you feel the part.
  3. Make eye contact with those speaking with you, no matter if they are your co-worker, boss, or three year old.
  4. Share the expectations with your company team and your family.
  5. Be aware of your personal state of mind and adjust it if necessary.

As a final thought: Be happy no matter where you are in your journey. Happiness is not a destination, it is a mindset and a journey — and ultimately it is a choice. Happy employees make great employees, and happy people make great people.


Nathan Jamail, president of the Jamail Development Group and author of the best-selling Playbook Series, is a motivational speaker, entrepreneur, and corporate coach. As a former executive director, life insurance sales professional, and business owner of several small businesses, Jamail travels the country helping individuals and organizations achieve maximum success. He has worked with thousands of leaders in creating a coaching culture. For more information or to get a copy of The Leadership Playbook, contact: Nathan Jamail,

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