I Have a Confession
Working from home has increased my productivity. It has also increased my self-awareness. There is nowhere to hide. With no face-to-face meetings and no traffic to blame, I see where my interests lie and where I choose to spend my time. It’s work.
When asked, “Hey, Charlie, what are your priorities in life?”
I always answer, “God, family, work.”
Whenever this subject comes up with my oldest daughter, Julia, she says without hesitation, “You’re a workaholic!”
Of all my children, she’s watched me for the longest time. She knows and doesn’t hesitate to tell me. The only other person who knows me even better than Julia is my wife, Kathy.
Kathy and I are taking daily isolation-life walks. On one of those walks recently, I worked up the nerve to confess. I told Kathy about the article I was writing.
I said, “I am struggling with what I know my priorities should be. I know they should be God, family, and work. And I want to confess to my readers. I want to come clean and then tell them I will change. But I know I won’t.”
And here is what she said which, by the way, blew me away.
“God made you the way he made you. You like to work, and you are good at it. It is how you serve people. We’ve been married for almost 43 years, and you’ve always put work before family.”
“That sounds awful,” I said.
“No. It’s not awful. It’s good,” she said.
“How can that be good? What will our kids think if they read this?” I asked.
She said, “They will think you are telling the truth.”
“Won’t they feel slighted or wronged by me?” I asked.
“No. They know you love them and that you are there for them. You just aren’t there for them like I am there for them,” she said.
She continued, “We are not the same people. You can’t do what I do because you don’t have the same interests. I’m good at what I do, and you are good at what you do. That is why it’s worked for us and our family.”
“You help people to be more successful whether they are in business or in ministry,” she said.
I let that hang in the air for a while. It felt right. It was right. That’s what I do!
It was like a weight was lifted off my chest. Kathy told me it’s OK.
I am still concerned about how my children will react to this, but it is the truth. It is what it is. And, as Kathy said, they already know. I’ve been their father all their lives.
And they have a really good recent example of this.
When we were entering isolation, I contacted each of my children and said, “Please take the time to download Google Duo. I can put this in my web browser, and we can be in touch during the day. We will actually see more of each other. Won’t that be great?”
Every one of them complied immediately.
Did I contact them throughout the day? In the beginning, the first day or two, yes. After that, very little. So what does this say about me?
Work is my priority. They knew it. Not one of my children called me out on not calling them. They expected me to focus on work. Why?
I like to work. No. That’s not strong enough. I love to work.
It is challenging and fun for me. It presents problems that need to be solved. It gets my creative juices flowing. It gives me a reason to be with other people. To do something together that has meaning and purpose. There is always a clear goal or project we are focused on. A mission to be fulfilled.
Work is simple, defined, and measurable.
Work is a relationship wrapped in purpose. When we are together to do work, we always know why we are together. And in most cases, we even know what each of us is supposed to do.
We want to solve the problem.
We want to figure out the steps to accomplish the goal.
We want to learn how to be more successful.
We want to strengthen and build our community..
All good reasons to get together. To work toward a mutually desired outcome. Work. It is so great.
It is a gift from God, and God is all about relationships.
All of my relationships started at work. Heck, I even met Kathy while I was installing software in Denver in 1976. And the other relationships in my life continued from each of the businesses we built together, the goals we achieved, and the mistakes we made.
Some of my life-long relationships grew from working on non-profit and community-based projects. What fun. We made a difference for so many. We did it by focusing our time and business experience on even bigger opportunities—High Tech Month of Georgia, the Business & Technology Alliance, the launch of the Technology of Georgia, the High Tech Prayer Breakfast, and Youth Ablaze Uganda to name a few.
My work has made for a very full and meaningful life. But there’s more to life than work...much more. And I’ll share my thoughts on those priorities next week.