Work-life balance isn’t as simple as separating work from personal life. Balancing both aspects of your life would only be successful if you learn how to make them work together. David Taylor-Klaus shatters the very concept of work-life balance for us in this conversation with Ryan Englin. David discusses how a single shift in a leader’s mindset can lead to a series of changes in themselves and their employees that will benefit how they balance their work and their lives. Work culture is dependent on the company’s leader. Leaders make a huge impact by providing motivation. It is a chain of positivity. Listen in and learn how this shift takes place in practice!
Change Your Results With This Single Shift
We often have a lot of people on our show that talk about the mindset shifts that as entrepreneurs we need to make to get to the next level in our business. I am excited to speak to our guest because that is exactly what he does. You may have heard the term work-life balance. You might even believe that work-life balance is possible. Our guest is going to shatter that idea for us. He is going to talk about why putting work at the beginning of work-life balance is the biggest mistake or lie we have ever been told. I am going to dig right in. I am excited to welcome our guest, David Taylor-Klaus, to the show.
David, welcome to the show.
I am glad to be here.
I am excited to have you and where this is going to go. Tell me what is the biggest myth about your industry or the work that you do?
The biggest myth is that people believe coaches are focused on work-life balance. Saying that phrase makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. I loathe that term because I realized that the industry has created that term to fool workers into over-calibrating towards work and losing contact with everything else that is important. In other words, they get so focused on work that life does not ever happen. Here is why it is asinine. Whose idea was it to put the word work first?
It changes the way we think about it. There is a professor out in Texas, James Campbell Quick, who did research, which is going to match your previous work experience. The average workweek is now 70 hours. Our job is to try to jam life into the cracks around it. That never happens. You never get around to it because you are so busy. If you are one of the truckers or you are the one behind the desk, it does not matter. Seventy hours does not leave you enough waking time to have a real life.
That is more time than I spend sleeping if I sleep a healthy number of hours, which most of us don’t.
If half of our waking time is contributed to work, then we have got to make that effective investment that leaves us time to have a life.
Why do you think that that has been perpetuated? I left corporate years ago and that was the one thing that they drilled into our heads like, “We want you to have work-life balance. We want you to find the balance when you are working 90 hours a week.” Why do you think that we do this?
It is because the lie has worked. People have gone on believing that to balance two things, you have to separate them. You can’t do that. You can’t separate work and life anymore. It is not a nice, convenient, tidy little bundle. The longer we believe it, the longer we buy into it and say, “We will play with our kids tomorrow. I will see my wife this weekend.” As long as we buy into that crap, it is going to perpetuate the pieces. Since we can’t separate them, this is about making life and work together but here is the other thing, family, faith, community, and kids.
There are so many things that are part of life, but why is work the only other thing included in the term that we use? It should be something closer to life rhythm and creating a rhythm between all the things that are important in your world. That is the game. When we talk to the folks who work for us about wanting them to have a whole life, we have to think about that, “How am I creating rhythm as the owner and leader? How am I creating rhythm in my world and then look at how am I creating space for the folks that are making my company possible? How do I make it possible for them to have a life?”
We have got to be the example and often, leaders are the bad example. We show people, “I am available 24/7.” We have got a client and they tell me, “If anybody calls me anytime 24/7, I answer the phone and expect them to do the same.” I am like, “Where is the balance in that?”
That is not healthy.
You talk about rhythm. We do a lot of work where we start to understand the different generations because when we are looking at hiring and building teams, we all think differently. I am a Gen X-er. As a Gen X, I am hoping that I teach my kids the things that I learned the hard way. I do not want them to go through the same stuff I did. We hope we are doing it better. I am not sure that we are but I do think that a lot of the modern workforce has shifted from this work-life balance idea and has gone to work-life integration, which I do not know is any healthier.You can't separate work and life anymore. Click To Tweet
There is an important language change. I would never let it play out where the word work comes first. It makes our intention and orientation backward, even changing that and getting people to think about their life first. There is a great quote from Rev Run, “Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.” By calling it work-life balance, we make that the outcome. Words create worlds. We are screwing ourselves by calling it work-life anything.
How do we overcome this and change our mindset on this? What are some things people can do? How do they make this happen or break down that belief?
The fish rots from the head down so it is the owner or the leader that has to model this. It starts by naming what is important and looking, “What are the things that are important to me?” I have a firm belief that your calendar does not lie. I can look at your calendar and tell you what is important to you because if it is on your calendar, it is not important. It is not going to get done if that says, “This is what time I leave the office. This is what time I am going to be in church, at dinner, or exercise.”
What happens first to an entrepreneur? The three things that fall off first are sleep, nutrition, and exercise. If you are not making time and space for these things to happen, they do not happen. You have had several guests who have talked about Mike Michalowicz and Profit First. It is the same idea. If you do not set up your accounts and structure so that you take the profit first and pay yourself, you are not going to. The calendar is the same window into what you are allowing to be important for you.
I am thinking through a bunch of entrepreneurs that I know and even me at different stages of my life and thinking, “That is great but you have not seen my calendar.” There is no room for those things. I would love to put them on there but there is no room. That goes back to your original point.
That is exactly what happens. There is the challenge. They are not on there because you did not put them on there. There is no room on there because you allowed it to get that crowded. You are answering the phone 24/7 because you are allowing that to happen. You are not training your team and training your customers. This is a completely different mindset than most of us were raised with. We were raised with this effed-up lie that the fiercer the dragon, the sweeter the victory. That is not true. The fiercer the dragon, the bloodier you get. Bludgeoning, powering, and hammering through things is how you die young.
I have two quick examples. One, I remember this guy. He was so excited. He is an entrepreneur. He had been grinding away for years and finally got over the $1 million revenue mark, which is a big deal for a lot of entrepreneurs. He had seven employees and he was loving it. He was like, “I finally made it.” We were sitting down talking about this and he goes, “I work about 70 hours a week. In 2021, my personal take-home or income is $72,000.”
Originally, I was thinking, “This is cool. I am jealous.” I am like, “I am not jealous at all because he is putting in so much effort.” You can make $72,000 way easier than being an entrepreneur. There are much easier ways to do that. This was his thing. I was like, “I have no desire to even want your business.” Many times, people get hung up on this revenue number like it is a vanity number. Revenue means nothing. I would rather have a very profitable business with lots of free time.
That leads me to the second story. I have another friend who moved up with his family. He is like, “I want to live on the coast. It is very expensive. I get it but that is where I want to be because that is where I spend time with my family.” We are talking and I can hear there is some shame in his voice as he is about to tell me what is going on. It is sad because this is what you are talking about.
He goes, “I have got a business now where I work 5 to 7 hours a week. I spend all my time with my young kids. I get to take my wife out every day. Do I have the big house, the riches, and all this other stuff? No, but I get to live where I want to live, play where I want to play, and spend all the time I want with my family. I do not tell a lot of people that because there is shame associated with admitting that, which is sad.” I was like, “I am so jealous of you. That is so awesome.”
There is shame in the idea of, “I have got the business structured so well that I am redundant. It can run without me.” Yet that is the goal. You have had a lot of guests on your series that are talking about exiting the company. If you are working 70 hours a week and your ass is in the truck, you got a company that is very hard to sell. If you have got a company that you can run in 5 to 7 hours a week, you can sell that and make some money off that because it is no longer reliant upon your grinding.
I can’t tell you how many people I have met who are in their early 60s and they are like, “I am ready to sell.” They call me and they are like, “I need you to help me build a team. I need you to get me out of the business. No one wants to buy it because I created a job for myself and the number of hours they are working.” I tell people, “That is going to be hard. You have got 40 years of doing it one way. For you to let go of that team is going to be tough.”
Here is the scary part. This goes back to your first story. This is a stat from after the fiscal readjustment we had in ‘08 and ‘09. Only 7% of companies that reached the seven-figure mark ever reached it a second time. That is because they have done it by grinding. There are no systems, structures, or processes. They are the system, structure, and process. Their butts are in the van. That is not sustainable. They say, “We did it,” and then they crash. We can wait until we decide to sell it. The broker or the consultant says, “You need a team or you are never getting out of this.” You can build the team then or at the beginning so you can be like the guy in your second story.
There is a mindset shift that has to happen but there are also some actions that people can take. Let’s talk about some of the actions they can take to grow their team and even themselves. How do you do that when it is not something you are accustomed to, not something you were raised to do, or it is not a habit? How do you get started doing something like that?If you want to grow your company, grow your people. And if you want to grow your people, grow yourself. Leadership always starts from you. Click To Tweet
Part of this is changing the way you build and lead your team. Let’s start with how you play with the folks already in your company. I have a firm belief and I have seen this from experience that being listened to feels so much like being loved that people can scarcely tell the difference. We often get so busy and intent on making things better that we forget that we are working with people who want to feel like they are heard. One of the quickest ways to kill trust inside of a company is to make your employees feel like you are not listening.
You and I were talking before. The idea of continuous quality improvement has poisoned the mindset of entrepreneurs. It is not that I am not a fan of lean manufacturing. I am but as you pointed out, it is a process, not a mindset. It has poisoned our minds so that every time we are listening to an employee, too many of us are thinking, “Let me correct that. That is not quite right.” Most of our time is spent correcting and redirecting. The problem is they do not feel heard, especially when there is so much of what they are saying.
An example is when you are listening to your employee for what is broken, what is wrong, and what I need to fix and tweak that. All their feelings are corrected. That erodes trust and increases turnover. All of us know how expensive it is to bring in a new employee, train them and get them up to speed. That costs time, effort, energy, and money. The more we can grow them, keep them and make them feel trusted and included, the less expensive it is for our payroll. The piece is when you are listening to somebody, it is a simple shift in mindset that you can practice. That is listening for something that you agree with or like or that you can build on.
It is listening for something positive and saying out loud, “What I like about that is this.” Tell them what was good, right, or on target about what they said and then add and. “And here is how we build on it and what we can do with it.” You are not making it thinly veiled, “What I like about that is this but it is wrong.” It is incumbent upon the owner or the leader to say, “What I like about is this.” Find something genuine and then say, “And this is what we can add and shift.” It is looking for something positive so they feel like they are part of something, especially with how many of us are leading teams that are now no longer all in-house.
As you were telling that story about listening to your team, it reminds me of something. This is something we coach. Especially in my world, I see so many times that entrepreneurs think about their people as an asset. We have convinced them, “Your people are your greatest asset.” When you hear the word asset, what do you think? You think of a thing, a machine, equipment, real estate, or property. We call people human capital or our assets. We think of them as things or cogs in a machine. What do you do when a cog breaks? You replace the cog.
When you were talking, you got me thinking. When you are talking to people, remember that they are human beings. They have hopes, goals, dreams, and all that mushy stuff that entrepreneurs do not want to talk about. It is so important because if you do not care that Bobby is going through a nasty divorce, that Jimmy’s kid has a health diagnosis, or that Susan is fighting with her spouse all the time because she wants to move back home and it is causing issues at home because she wants to be back to where her family is, you are never going to get your people to care about your business.
Your business is your dream. If you do not enroll these people and treat them like humans, they are going to help somebody else build their dream.
I love what you said about listening to people and not with the intention to reply. They would be like, “I can’t wait to get my few cents in.” Listening to what is not being said is what I tell people all the time. We are talking to our people, listening to our people, and learning from our people. You said something, “As leaders, it is our responsibility to continue to grow as well.” Talk about that a little bit more.
One of the things I say a lot is, “If you want to grow your company, grow your people. If you want to grow your people, grow yourself.” Leadership always starts with you. You are never done. It is not always about learning more about the finances, operations, or the process. It is learning more about yourself. The more you learn about yourself, the less you will find you are doing things that do not serve and work for you. Back to that lie of work-life balance, so much happens as we convince ourselves that what we are doing is meaningful and meaningful to us but we can only live that lie for so long.
Gay Hendricks wrote a book called The Big Leap. He talks about the idea of your zone of genius versus your zone of excellence. We spend our time doing things we are good at and we may even be excellent at but it is not our zone of genius. It is the thing that we are best at and the thing that we are the only one in the company that can do it. The better we get to know ourselves and what lights us up, the more we can spend our time doing that and growing our team to do all those other things.
Back to your example in your second story of the guy who is working 5 to 7 weeks running a company. He is spending those 5 to 7 hours in his zone of genius. That is the best possible position to lead a company from. I had a technology company for fifteen years. I did the books for the first year. It was not my zone of excellence. It certainly was not my zone of genius. It was my zone of incompetence.
The only reason we had a second year is that my partner started doing the books before we eventually hired somebody to do the books. I was terrible. I had no idea what I was doing. I could spend a lot of time getting better at individual tasks or areas of understanding of a company or learn enough to manage the numbers and the people running the numbers. I can put my focus on what I should be doing and what I am supposed to be doing because that is what I am a genius at.
I tell clients, “What is the thing that you would have to pay $10,000 an hour to have someone else do that you do? That is the stuff you stay focused on.” How many times do you need an entrepreneur who is answering the phones or driving a truck? I am like, “You are doing $50 an hour of work. You get the job. Even at 70 hours a week, you have only got so many hours.” You are going to max out or burn out. That happens too.
I am working on myself and my people. Why do you think so many people get stuck? What is a way to not get stuck? That is my question because I picture this, “I am growing, learning and doing all these new things but I got to get back to running my business.” How do we make it part of the mindset shift, our habits, and our daily routines so that we are constantly growing ourselves and our people?Your business is your dream. Click To Tweet
You said the perfect word in there, habit. We do not have habits of behavior. We have habits of thinking and the habits of thinking are the hardest to break. When you get into brain science, our brains are designed for consistency. In other words, if you have a certain thought pattern or behavior, your brain wants to keep doing that. That is the way that neurons in the brain work. We do not have to nerd out and get into brain science.
Here is the thing to change a habit. Our brains suck at stopping something. We are good at replacing something that does not serve with something that does. In other words, it is building a new habit. That depends on who researched you. You read 21 to 30 days at a minimum of as much as 90 days. That means if you want to create a new habit of thinking, mindset, or behavior, back to your calendar, this is something you have to do every day. To create a shift, it is small actions repeated with frequency for a duration of time.
I was listening to previous episodes. If you want to change the way you see money and get out of that scarcity mindset into an abundance mindset, then that is something you have to keep in front of you every day. Lindsey Vonn, who is an Olympic skier, wanted to get better at jumping because she hated jumping and the sport that she was competing in changed to start including jumps. She hated it. She was terrified of it. It is something as simple as a little Post-it pad.
She had little Post-its in her locker, bag, bathroom, and everywhere that said, “I love jumping.” It is helping her take on a different mindset. She spent all the money on a sports psychologist and the coach just said, “Here is a pack of Post-its.” That made all the difference. Those are three gold medals in extreme downhill. The idea is how do you keep the goal in front of you long enough with enough repetition to change and create a new habit of thinking?
It is almost like creating these little traps and things to jog your mind for a second. It reminds me of a client we have. They are in construction. All the guys in the field wear safety vests. They bought everybody all-new safety vests with a clear plastic pocket over the chest. The guys are like, “What is this clear plastic pocket for?” Right above the pocket, it says, “I work safely for.” The idea was for them to put a picture of their family in it. They are not looking at it every day but they are seeing everybody else that they are working with and all the people they work safely for. It makes them go, “I got to work safely but I got to make sure that they work safely too because I want them to go back to those people.”
That is a structure that helps bring it to the front of the mind throughout the day. It is brilliant. It is a great way to build a new habit of thinking.
I know that you have got some thoughts around values too. I talk a lot about values inside of an organization in the work I do. Every organization has values whether they are written on the break room wall or not. Talk to me a little bit about that. How do values align with leadership? How do we hold people accountable to them? How do we use that as a way to make sure we are all moving in the same direction as we start growing our people?
Let me apologize in advance for starting off with the negative. The problem with those values that are posted on the wall in the break room is that a precious few of those companies can answer the question, “What behaviors are visible when those values are being lived?” We confuse common language with common understanding all the time. You have got a value of trust or responsiveness for your company.
If I ask people inside the company what trust means, there is more than one answer, then there is a problem because each person thinks, “What I believe trust means for me may be wildly different than you.” That is going to be the case across the team. If or when everybody on the team is clear about what behaviors are present when those values are being lived, then those values have meaning. When you talk about holding people accountable, you can’t hold them accountable for what has not been named.
The idea of accountability has four simple questions and this is great around the values. Ask the employee what was supposed to happen and let them answer it. When you walk up and say, “You were supposed to do this,” they have already shut down. Ask them what was supposed to happen and then what actually happened. They have now drawn awareness to what the gap was.
What are you going to do to make it right? How are we going to make sure this thing does not happen again? The first step to any of that is them knowing what they are being held accountable to. That is where we fall down. Spoiler alert, we are not clear on our values even when we have articulated them as to what behaviors are present when we live those. If we are not, how do we know what we are holding ourselves accountable to?
I like what Simon Sinek says. He is like, “The values inside of your organization should all be a verb.” That way, you can tell when someone does them. If they are not a verb, it is not a good value. Jim Collins even goes a step and says, “There is this permission to play values like trust, integrity, honesty and all that.” You would have to test people you invite to your team for trustworthiness. We shouldn’t do these things but we do them all the time. Why? It is because, especially with the values, we have to look at ourselves. We are the first person that has to change when we want something different. We can only change ourselves. We got to be the leader. When we go to values, keeping trust is so much easier than figuring out what it is that we value.
It is easier to pull those aspirational words off of a list, have them done by a graphic designer, and put them up on the wall. Roy Disney said, “When your values are clear, decision-making becomes easier.” For every single one of us that had ever started, grown, and run a business, decision-making is our lifeblood. The better decisions we make, the better results we get. Get your values articulated clearly and internalized. Know what it is that is important to you then you can filter out the things that aren’t.
We could keep going forever on this. I have so many questions but I want to make sure that our readers get the value out of it. I can picture a lot of people reading this and going, “David, you make it sound so stinking easy. I have done this stuff and worked on this. I have not been able to make this happen.” You have a very specific prescription for people that want to get help and get somebody to help them do this because professional athletes have it and everybody else. You talk about Lindsey Vonn. Most of them have more than one. Tell me about that. What is something they can go do if they want to do this but maybe they have struggled in the past or they do not know how to get started?To create shifts, you need to take small actions repeated with frequency for a duration of time. Click To Tweet
The more extensive answer is to get a coach. There are so many folks that provide leadership coaching. If I want to get better at any sport, I am going to hire a coach because I do not know what I do not know. The reason coaches are so powerful for leaders is that we do not see ourselves as we are. We have a warped view of ourselves in the mirror. A coach’s job is to help you see how you are being out in the world and help you shift that in a way that makes sense for you. Here is the first thing. I loathe the idea of sending people to social media but I am going to do it anyway.
Start following some coaches on social media. There is so much good information from coaches that are serving leaders and entrepreneurs. You can get a ton of information for free. If there is high-value information at a low cost or free, hell yeah but start listening, watching, reading, and looking at how you can improve who you are being and how you are leading. The better decisions, the better leader you are. This is about working on your decision-making. The more of that comes from your values and the truth about who you are, the easier your life becomes and the better your results become. If you are not ready to hire a coach, start following them.
Let’s figure it out for those people that are ready and want to either follow someone or maybe even reach out to you. How do people get ahold of you? You have got a free offer for them as well.
I have got a tool online that I wish I had when I started as an entrepreneur years ago. There is a quiz online at DTKQuiz.com. It gives you a chance to take a test of where you are along the curve of living, loving, and leading at your best. It is simple and easy to do. It takes you just a couple of minutes and you get good information back. If there is more of a conversation you want to have, I am available. This is not going to put you into heavy hammer email sales. This is an opportunity for you to get a better sense of how you are doing in your life from a different perspective.
David, I have enjoyed this conversation. I can’t believe we are done already. I feel like we just got started. There is so much to dig in here. I have enjoyed it a ton. Thank you for being here and for some of that impactful insight on being able to change the way you think enough so that not only you can become a better leader but create better leaders inside of your organization as well. David, thanks for being here.
I enjoyed it. Take care, Ryan.
About David Taylor-Klaus
My clients are entrepreneurs & senior executives achieving success professionally but seeing that growth come at the expense of personal fulfillment.
You know you’re ready to work with me when you catch yourself thinking things like:
• My spouse hates my company!
• The company is making money but I’M not.
• I thought my company would have been farther along by now.
• I don’t know what’s next.
• How much more can I take?
I get it. I’ve been there. And I promise it doesn’t have to be that way. I turned around my life AND my business and I’ve been helping entrepreneurs and senior executives do the same thing. Now in my 3rd decade as a serial entrepreneur, the last 9 as a coach, I have thousands of hours helping entrepreneurs and executives succeed professionally AND personally.
My process helps my clients in three ways:
• Mindset Coaching to grow the person
• Business Coaching to grow the company
• Team Coaching to grow performance
My newest book, Mindset Mondays with DTK: 52 Ways to REWIRE Your Thinking and Transform Your Life, (available as of September 1, 2020: https://amzn.to/2CWnUdd) is a user’s guide to changing your mind. In it, I’ve woven well-known quotes from authors, artists, coaches, and other visionaries with engaging stories to inspire new ways of thinking. At the end of each of the 52 chapters, you’ll find an interactive section called REWIRE, which includes provocative questions, thought experiments, and prompts designed to deepen your connection with the material and to make the learning stick. REWIRE is an acronym for Reflect | Experiment | Write | Investigate | Revise | Expand — a structured yet playful approach that integrates and reinforces new ways of thinking, being, and doing — all in service of increasing cognitive flexibility and creating meaningful, lasting change.
Mindset Mondays will help you recognize that you always have a choice: you’re not stuck, you’re not bound by a fixed set of capacity and capability, and you don’t have to be at the whim of unconscious beliefs. You ARE limitless!
As my clients master their mindset, they master their career and they master their money.
My clients learn to build, run AND grow profitable businesses while raising a thriving family and living a wildly fulfilling life.
To get a sense of my approach, download my free book “This Is Your Wake-Up Call!” at DTKcoaching.com/get-your-copy/
I gladly offer a Complimentary “Wake-Up! Call” – a Laser-Coaching call to see if we’re a good fit. Call or email me to set up a time!