Richard Branson Smiling For Photo With Arm Around His Son


Photo: iStock

You have been able to rely on your gut instinct and intellect to succeed. Breaking barriers and creating connections with your colleagues allowed you to get to the top of your industry. 

But you are now facing a problem you cannot solve: How do I manage my energy and put my best foot forward with the people who matter most—my family?

When you are lost, find a mentor to help lead the way. You need someone who has wrestled with the same issues as you and has come out of the other side victorious. 

With two children and a multibillion-dollar business, Richard Branson might be the right mentor for you. Listen to how Branson and these other successful CEOs create work-life balance.

"Spending a lot of time with the family also made me adapt the way I work. This has been one of the keys to Virgin's success. I always made sure we had proper family holidays - time spent away from work and the office. Spending time away taught me the art and importance of delegating from an early age. I quickly learned what I was good at and made sure I brought in people to help with those areas where I was weaker.”

- Richard Branson, CEO of Virgin 

Richard Branson is extremely successful because he focuses on what matters most. By prioritizing the most important people in his life—his family—he created constraints that forced him to use his hours more effectively. Instead of getting involved in the day-to-day operations of his business, he homed in on the areas where his unique genius could shine. 

"Each week, I examine the categories of my life — father, husband, CEO, self — and identify the specific actions that help me feel successful and fulfilled in these capacities."

- Ryan Smith, CEO of Qualtrics

Ryan Smith does not leave success up to chance. He doesn’t hope to hit his goals by bumbling around in the dark. Like Richard Branson, he focuses on where his actions will be the most effective, as a CEO and as a father. This meticulous approach allows him to execute decisions with clarity.

“I don’t mow the lawn.”

- Bill Gates, former CEO of Microsoft

This was Bill Gates's answer to Charlie Rose when asked how he finds time to be a CEO, a chairman of a foundation, and a father. Some might laugh, but there is wisdom in these words. The time he spends at home is focused on his family. He doesn’t get caught up in mowing the lawn, fixing the bathroom sink, or filing paperwork—because he isn’t passionate about them. He asks himself: What can only I bring to my family? Then delegates the rest. 

"I love the summer because, with the longer days, I feel I can maximize the time I spend with my family. A few ways I do this is to make sure I put my phone and laptop away so that I can be present."

- Apu Mody, CEO of Lenny & Larry’s

Apu Mody implements what all of us know that we should—getting rid of the tech away when we are with our families. He recognizes that the pull to check emails and messages is too strong when he has internet access. Unwilling to risk only giving half his attention to his family during their time together, he creates distance between himself and works by putting his devices away.  

"In fact, if I'm happy at work, I'm better at home — a better husband and better father. And if I'm happy at home, I come into work more energized — a better employee and a better colleague…It actually is a circle; it's not a balance. And I think that is worth everybody paying attention to…"

- Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon

Jeff Bezos disagrees with the whole premise of work-life balance. He puts great effort into all his roles and experiences a positive feedback loop. He isn’t embarrassed to feel fulfilled at his job and to be passionate about his work. He views life as a whole and values bringing his highest contribution to the entire system. 

Successful CEOs know that 80% of their results come from 20% of their work.

They take that same 80/20 principle and apply it to every aspect of their life:

- How to divide their time

- What to delegate 

- And how to show up 

Taking time to distinguish where you are most effective and distinctively valuable at work and at home and will leave you more fulfilled in every role.

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