It was a Saturday morning. My wife had previously committed to the Herculean task of taking our 4-year-old daughter to a friend’s birthday party. You know the deal. Kids, kids, and more kids, all hopped up on wild amounts of sugar and infinite amounts of energy.
I commend my wife for her strength. I, on the other hand, would be using the alone time to catch up on work.
They left. I worked. Plenty to keep me occupied. And then they returned, my daughter bursting with joy. She ran into my office and proudly showed me…slime. You know, the kind that kids make in science class. Or at a friend’s birthday party, I guess. She was fascinated by the way it oozed through her fingers, and enthusiastically demonstrated its magical characteristics.
Still knee-deep in the muck of work, my response was half-baked. Something like “Oh, that’s awesome.” But kids are perceptive. We don’t give them half-near as much credit as they deserve. My daughter read me in the flash of a second. Her metaphorical balloon popped, and I realized that I had made a HUGE mistake.
We are terrible at multitasking. There are legitimate studies that suggest we shouldn’t try to do multiple things at once. Context doesn’t matter. Work tasks…personal tasks…it’s all the same.
In the case of my daughter and her ball of slime, I had tried (and failed) to multitask. To stay focused on work while still accounting for her needs. Instead, her big deal was diminished by my big faux pas. Who the hell even knows what I was doing that proved to be ‘so’ important?
As a father, this incident reminded me to take the time to celebrate everything. Time is precious in the world of family. There’s a finite amount of instances where my daughter will burst through my office door to show me slime or any other self-made creation. I need to make every one of them count.
And as a CEO, I found the lesson to be much the same.
Earlier this week, I explored the notion of reprioritizing. I wrote a piece for Entrepreneur about my COO cancelling lunch with his daughters due to a day full of meetings. He felt trapped, unable to enjoy much-needed family time because of work.
It’s all too easy for us to shift into auto-pilot when working; to drill-in to our work like it’s the only thing that matters. It’s not. When we make time for ourselves, our family, and others, we’re better for it. When we create a routine but aren’t afraid to break it, we live our lives more fully.
When we take stock of what matters and realize that other things can wait, we don’t suffer because of our decisions. When we celebrate everything — at home and in the workplace — we embrace the best part about us: being human.
So, this Thanksgiving weekend, I’m going to fully engage in family activities and give my family the attention they deserve and enjoy. I’m grateful for all of the laughs, memories, and moments with them!
Sometimes you just gotta celebrate the slime.