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A business owner with no life outside work isn’t necessarily going to be more successful than those who balance their own ecosystem.

Active ImageSam Leader offers a tonic of balance for the workaholic.

Two similar ad campaigns without balance have angered me no end. The first, a TV ad, features a beaming bride who keeps smiling as she takes a work call during her wedding ceremony. The second, on radio, has a workaholic dad cutting short the reading of a bedtime story to take a call, explaining, "Sorry son, it’s Daddy’s work."

It makes me want to run a counter campaign: "Lost: Priorities and Perspective. Last seen before the Industrial Revolution."

Aren’t advertisements supposed to be aspirational? Can anyone tell me what is aspirational about working at your own wedding, or having a client interrupt time with your son?

Have these companies considered the impact of such campaigns on their staff? If these ads are any reflection of what’s expected of them, the effect must be de-motivating to say the least.

Small and medium business owners need to lead by example by unapologetically ensuring work takes its rightful place alongside our other priorities. It is our duty to show the drones how it’s done by putting at least as much conscious effort into staying healthy and making our relationships a success as we do into our work.

Each of us is responsible for our delicate ecosystem of work, health and relationships. For this ecosystem to survive, each element and its interrelation needs to be nurtured and respected. The good news is, it should be easy for small business owners, free of the strictures of tut-tut-you’re-five-minutes-late corporate culture, to ensure there’s harmony between these elements.

And now the bad news: many are so frightened of not being taken seriously they busily emulate ‘jobland’. In the zeal to create a career others will take notice of and have respect for, they end up creating a black-hole business that consumes all their energy.

Naturally this behaviour has got ‘counterproductive’ written all over it, because when energy is not replenished by time out our business ends up suffering anyway.

Small business expert, Robert Gerrish, explains the role of the review process he sometimes undertakes with coaching clients, 99 percent of which are solo business owners. "I’ll find out how they think they have performed in their business. Then I ask, ‘And how about as a partner/parent/friend?’ If they stall on answers here, it’s a strong indicator something is out of whack and trouble is not far behind."

Just because you take a Tuesday afternoon to lie down with a book, lark about in the ocean or have a long lunch with friends, it doesn’t mean you don’t take business seriously and aren’t committed to it.

Time out is not going to kill you, but over-committing to your work just might.

*Sam Leader is co-author, with Robert Gerrish, of Flying Solo: How to go it alone in business, and editor of the Flying Solo website, www.flyingsolo.com.au

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