I will never forget that call.
It was 12 hours until my family was leaving for our annual family vacation. It was to be our 5th consecutive year I had kept my promise to my family that I would unplug from my work for a full week. My wife was home packing with our four kids while I was tying up loose ends in my office.
I had only been with my company for a handful of months, and those months had been a struggle. I was struggling; my team was struggling.
It was after 6 pm when my phone rang.
It was another leader in the company, reaching out to say that the owner and president of the company wanted to have a call. Immediately.
It seemed odd as everyone knew I was heading out of the office for a week of vacation.
My response, “can’t this wait until I get back?” The answer was no; this was a required phone call.
Thirty minutes later, I was on the call.
What followed was a conversation that didn’t make sense to me.
It was communicated that I would be required to make significant changes to my entire team. Those changes included compensation changes, headcount changes, and so much more. It was a wholesale change.
As part of this, the company owner indicated it would be wise for me to not take my vacation. When I asked for clarity he went on about how he didn’t take a vacation for years when starting his company. When I again asked, “are you stating I can’t take this time off” he responded gruffly with what was close to “I am not going to tell you that you can’t but I am telling you it wouldn’t be wise.”
I was incredulous.
This was a person who knew my value system. My family was more important to me than anything. I had clearly represented that I was a “family first” guy. These were the same people I had overcommunicated that same value system during the recruiting process. They had presented themselves as being in alignment with that value system.
Now here I was a few short months into working with this person, and they were asking me to compromise. Compromise to meet a deadline that appeared to have been spontaneously created hours prior.
I stood my ground. No one was stealing the upcoming week from me. I couldn’t miss this time connecting with them.
After enormous pressure I caved. I would stay and put on a weekend of long hours over a holiday to ensure a deadline was met.
I hung up the phone disgusted with myself for not having seen my core values through. As my wife left on vacation with our four children, without me, I thought to myself; THIS WILL NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN!
My two oldest still remember that trip now years removed from it. What they remember is that Dad wasn’t there. Of all the vacations we have taken as a family, it’s the one where Dad was only there for a few days.
Crazy the things children remember!
In 2017 I started a company, 4C Recruiting. One of the founding principles has been that we would ALWAYS choose people over profits. This is near and dear to my heart.
This past weekend I left my office on my terms knowing nothing would get in the way of my family time. I took a moment to reflect on that prior experience and out of that flowed gratitude for what I had been given in the present.
This picture of me and my family heading out on an extended weekend trip reminds me that compromising my values isn’t worth any amount of money. There are things more valuable than money. It’s time with the people you love.
The lesson I will pass onto my four children. Don’t compromise your values even in the face of pressure. Anything worth having is worth fighting for even when there is a short term cost.
What do you value?
What have you defined as being worth fighting for?
I would love to have you share!