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Edition 206 – Totally Absorbed

It was before 5am on a Saturday morning. The sun wasn’t up, however Prince, our King Charles Cavalier was. Leaving the back door slightly ajar the previous evening meant that he was the first to notice the dawn chorus. The Willy Wagtails were the opening act and, if there’s the opportunity, Prince quickly follows, even before the Kookaburras break into their glorious early morning song.

I’m an early riser anyway. However on this particular morning, I decided to make use of the cool and early start to indulge in one of my hobbies, some gardening. It was my father in law, Wal, who introduced me to gardening. He was a great one for potting plants and displaying them all around his backyard. It’s one of my life’s few laments that I never saw the beauty of the garden he lovingly tended over so many years in North London.

The dogs joined me as I wandered back and forth to my shed. Potting mix, manure, tools and gloves were all retrieved, first in the dark, then gradually in the early morning sunlight.

I potted some new plants, turned the compost over and trimmed some bushes that were long overdue for a haircut. The new petunias and vincas looked a picture, particularly as through this incredible drought we’re suffering in Eastern Australia, most of the rest of the garden was looking less than ordinary.

As I stood back, admired the fruits of my early morning work and gave the dogs a pat, I took a look at the clock – and two and a half hours had slipped by. For 150 minutes, I’d indulged in a hobby to the point that I was completely immersed in the pleasure of it.

In the modern day of meetings, devices and unrelenting connectivity, I’d completely switched off from the world and created a small part of my garden. With some TLC, it is something that I will be able to enjoy, for the next 6 months. I’d escaped the world, rested the brain and walked 10000 steps all before 8am.

There are some family businesses that I walk into and the individuals that work them, manage them or own them are completely blinkered in their focus. It is all about their job, their career or their business. No matter their level in the hierarchy, there seems to be a relentless pursuit to tick off what is next on the Family Business To-Do list.

In other family businesses, there are people that have it right. They have their passions that sustain them outside of the business. For some it is a sport. For others, it is a community organisation they’re passionate about. They enjoy their hobbies and are conscious to factor them into their daily, or at least weekly, lives.

My point today is that we can only invest more in our family businesses when we invest less. By switching off and doing something for ourselves, we unclutter our minds, do something for ourselves and in the process, enable our bodies and our brains to regenerate and start the next day or next week invigorated for the challenge.

Turn off the phone, the iPad and the computer when your work day is done
and take the time to do something other than work in, or think about your family business.
It’ll ultimately make you more effective and more successful.