Do You Have “Balance” in Your Business and Your Life?

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balance in businessWhat does your life look like?

Just yesterday, I worked from 6:00 AM through 5:00 PM and then I ran off to dinner with my husband and my son – checking my iPhone intermittently for updates and emails on an event I was producing.  I came home and hopped on a Twitter Chat between 8:00 PM and 9:00 PM and then crashed in a heap.

Like you, I work for myself and probably like you, my personal and professional worlds have somehow become intertwined in a rather clumsy dance I call my life.

One day, in a “rare” moment of a complete freak out, my glance fell upon a stack of review copies and focused on the title Balance: The Business -Life Connection by Jim Cusumano (@JamesACusumano).   “A-HA!” I thought.  “This will be my next book review.”  Because if I’m feeling this way, I can imagine that others with bigger businesses, employees, families and responsibilities are also feeling this way.

What’s the Meaning of Life?

Appropriately enough, the book starts with Jim Cusumano’s life story. I’m going to tell you just a little about Jim here.

Cusumano proudly calls himself a Sicilian- American.  He is the oldest of 10 (yes 10) children and in the chapter, he lays out his colorful road to becoming an entertainer; lead singer for The Royal Teens (of “Short Shorts” fame).  Then he proceeded to get a PhD in Physical Chemistry as well as pursuing business studies at Harvard and Stanford and then receiving a fellowship at Cambridge University. (I know – it’s crazy).

And the bio keeps going.  Cusumano went on to found Catalytica, Inc., a Silicon Valley company with business units in clean energy and pharmaceuticals.  I’m going to skip through several more accomplishments to get to the part where he created the Chateau Mcely Forum to provide resources and educational products for Inspired Leadership.  There is so much more, but I really need to get into the review of this book.

Inside the weaving of Cusumano’s story, you’ll see that there is a pattern here; a series of decisions and roads taken and not taken.  And this is the focus of this book.

Creating a Fulfilling Life

Part two of the book gets into the discussions of purpose and passion.  There are several chapters that focus on four powerful questions:

  1. What do I most love to do, so much so that time passes incredibly quickly?
  2. What work do I do now or have done in the past that I do not consider work?
  3. What could I do that would create the greatest value for the world around me, as well as the greatest personal satisfaction for the amount of time spent?
  4. What is my unique ability, the skill or skills which if truly actualized could provide significant benefits to the organization for which I work, to the world and me?

From there the author guides you into creating an action plan for your life.  This section ends with a discussion on the things that could stop us – such as fear and how to deal with that.

The last and final section of the book is all about creating a successful business.  Cusumano takes the personal approach here as well.  He shares his journey and his lessons on how to achieve success and become a leader.

I think that small business owners will find a lot of value in this third section of the book.  Cusumano brings his passion for leadership to bear here and he also provides some very pragmatic advice that any small business owner will appreciate.

Here is a quick quote on performance reviews:

It’s prime purpose is to align all employee goals with those of the company, to identify effective means to further develop employees, and in achieving both of these objectives to create a fulfilling professional life for all employees and a successful enterprise.

My  favorite point in this section is that it’s targeted toward mutual benefit of the company and the employee and the entire proposed process Cusumano recommends is designed to have any performance issues brought up by the employee instead of the manager.

Why Take the tTime to Read Balance?

If you’re finding yourself collapsing exhausted at the end of your day – chances are that Balance should be on your reading list.  After reading the book, you will likely find yourself refreshed and energized and ready to take on the business, the world and yes – your life.

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Ivana Taylor Ivana Taylor is the Book Editor for Small Business Trends. She is responsible for directing the site’s book review program and manages the team of professional book reviewers. She also spearheads the annual Small Business Book Awards. Ivana publishes DIYMarketers, where she shares daily do-it-yourself marketing tips, and is co-author of "Excel for Marketing Managers."

4 Reactions
  1. Hi Ivana – This sounds like exactly the kind of book I need!

    – Anita

  2. What a great book idea, I’m not as hardcore as you but definitely wonder if I’m balanced sometimes!

  3. I am a hard working guy and work daily for long hours but there is always a time when I find it real hard to balance my professional and personal life. It just happens and you can’t control it. But truly deep inside I feel that your business and real life should be balance and should not conflict with each other.

    Do what you enjoy doing and if you get paid for it, much better. I would definitely like to read Cusumano’s book because I think I can learn a lot of things from his life story and experience.

  4. I think the key is focusing on designing the life you really want, creating your own definition of success based on your core values and then re-engineering work or business to support that. And that might look different each day, week, month and year. Business should serve and protect what is most important in life – not balance with it.