ASQ - Team and Workplace Excellence Forum

Online Edition - August 2000

Issue Highlight - Homeward Bound
--- Peter Block offers some practical reccomendations about how to create balance and harmony in your life.
These recommendations are guaranteed to work or your time back."

In This Issue...
The Economics of Choice
Children: A Blessing or a Lucky Taxbreak
Welcome to the Wild West
The Struggle to Have It All

Peter Block Column
Day In The Life Stories
Views for a Change

Heard on the Street
Letters to the Editor

Views For A Change

Consultant Q&A

H. James Harrington Responds:

  Look at your son and imagine how you would feel if he was not there. Then look at your next promotion and imagine how you would feel if you did not get it. Whichever feeling has the most negative impact upon you is a good indication of which option you should spend most of your time with.

  You need to design your life so that it fits into what I call the "Arena of Life." There are four parts to this arena. They are: work; family; self and religion.
Theoretically, these four parts should be in balance. Practically, that is extremely difficult. I suggest that you and your husband do the following together because you are partners in life, and it is the combined impact that is important.

  1. Prioritize the four parts (work, family, self, religion).
  2. Collect data to see how many hours the two of you spend a week on each of the four parts. Together you have a total of 224 waking hours per week, if you both sleep eight hours per night. The "work" part of the arena includes things such as working around the house, paying bills and your business activities. The "self" part of the arena many include getting dressed, social activities, watching TV, reading a book, going out with friends, professional activities, school, surfing the net, etc. The "family" part of the arena includes talking with your family members, family dinners, family picnics, family outings, games with family members, helping with homework, etc.

  3. Compare priorities with how you spend your time.

  4. Develop a plan to align priorities and the time you spend on each part of the "Arena of Life."

  Too often parents try to buy their children's love with gifts because they feel guilty about spending too much time per week on themselves. This does not work! In large families, children get love and support from their brothers and sisters as well as from their parents. Parents need to devote much more time to the family if they have only one child.

  Based upon your comments, your family will be your number one priority. As such, you should treat them as your most important customer. Schedule meetings with your family members just as you would with a client, and never show up late or cancel these meetings. For example, schedule one hour just before your son goes to sleep each night to give him a bath and lay down beside him to talk about his day's activities.

  I am the worst person in the world you can ask to give you advice on this subject. I failed in doing the right thing myself, but I hope you can learn from my mistakes. When our children are young (0-15 years of age), they need much more of our time than they will need later on. One of the two of you needs to free up this time. I spent more time on ASQC activities than I did with my son. Today I am very sorry. There's an old saying that says it all; "I have never heard a person on their deathbed say, 'I wish I had spent more time at work.'"

H. JAMES HARRINGTON has written seven books including the best-selling "The Improvement Process," "Business Process Improvement," and "Total Improvement Management: The Next Generation in Performance Management." Harrington is the CEO of The Performance Improvement Network in Los Gatos, Calif. He is considered a leading authority in process management.

Joan Goldsmith Responds
Question for the Consultants

August 2000 NFC Homepage


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