A funny thing happened after I fell in love with my wife, Linda, while we were both attending Michigan State University: 7 kids, 31 years at HP Inc in various global roles, Linda's day care, volunteering, work at Colorado State University... whew!
We married and then moved away from our families in Michigan to pursue my career at Hewlett-Packard in Colorado. That was back in 1985, so our journey as a couple and as a family has been one of self-reliance from the beginning. It's been an always evolving partnership as our lives unfolded.
Early in our marriage, the stress of it all was a challenge at times. There were deadlines, new jobs, finances, and a young family. It was a challenge to find energy for each other, and I could sense that I wasn't as intuitively grounded as I wanted to be. So i decided I needed to create an explicit framework for myself. I needed to write down not only "what" I wanted to stand for and pursue, but "how" I would hold myself accountable and recognize progress. (Yes, I'm a bit goal-driven.) While this was designed to help me get my personal 'act together', I shared it with Linda during one of our weekly "dates".
SEE JIM's PROCESS FOR DEFINING GUIDING PRINCIPLES BELOW
Just the act of writing down this framework and these goals, created a much more intuitive inner focus. And, since we wrote it down as a couple, we discussed it early on, and it helped keep us more 'on the same page'. I felt more comfortable with our communication. It was never perfect, nor was I, but we have taken on every twist and turn with trust, humility, earnestness, and a sense of humor ... along with an inner 'compass'.
Like that time I was in Singapore on business and called home with a happy and energetic "How are things with you, Bud?"... only to hear that four kids had the stomach flu which included projectile vomiting. And to top it off, they had 'lost it' inside the sleeping bags they were resting in. "So, I'm on the way to the Laundromat to clean 4 gross sleeping bags" my wife told me. By the time I flew home, I had to rush one of the youngest to the ER for IV fluids.
While there is a book full of moments and memories that could be written, I can say that committing to balance and making family your #1 priority can be done while pursuing a kick-butt career! Rock ON!
Jim's Process for Defining Guiding Principles
My areas of focus were (and are): Faith, Exercise, Fun, Career, Kids, Linda, Finances
For each focus area, I drew a line from left to right (i.e. bad to great), and listed simple examples of what it would look like to be 'bad', 'good', and "great" for each. For example: