25th July 2019

“Have you yet to create a near perfect work/life balance”?

The Seven Attributes of The CEO


Talk of work life balance is often, at best, naïve and almost always unhelpful. The individuals who are so smitten by the entrepreneurial bug that they forgo the safety of a normal job to lay everything on the line to start and grow a business are almost by definition outliers. They are the exception. They are not normal. You could almost say they are unbalanced to start with. They tend to be obsessive and demonstrate many of the traits that normal people don’t.


However in order to be a great CEO we must develop a sense of balance that suits us and that helps us to perform at our best, more often, more consistently.

Business leaders are faced with an environment where there will always be more to do than we have time and energy to do it. Couple that with an obsessive personality, an almost relentless drive for success, and an environment that is pressurised, to say the least, and we have created an almost perfect storm; a storm that can cause severe distress at least, complete meltdown at worst.


The fourth attribute of the CEO is the ability to create a near perfect balance. The role of the CEO in many ways is analogous to an elite athlete in that we need to be able to perform at a high level on a regular and consistent basis. We know that we can’t expect an elite athlete to compete at championship level every weekend. Elite athletes are coached and disciplined to combine rest, recuperation and training in their regime so that they can perform at their best when they really need to.

Great leaders must apply the same discipline for themselves or suffer early burnout and risk not fulfilling their potential.

Your Oxygen Mask First 

My friend Kevin Lawrence has some important thoughts and countermeasures on this in his book ‘Your Oxygen Mask First’ which I would highly recommend reading. He makes the point that It is impossible to steer a company to its greatest potential if you aren’t in your strongest state as an individual and states “This is about giving yourself permission to put yourself first. It’s about making your needs an unwavering priority so you are strong and resilient enough to be of service to others”

That doesn’t mean being selfish. It does mean that you allow yourself to look after yourself so that you can do what you need to do, at a higher level, more often and more consistently.


He points out that business leaders often see the world as work and anything outside work is called life, but that denies a third and vital element which is self. And self must be prioritised if we are to do what we do in a sustainable way. If we ignore your own well-being, the smartest business strategy on the planet can’t save us and I wonder how many of us are seeking better strategies simply because we haven’t paid enough attention to looking after ourselves.

Remember that without balance the best racehorse, if raced every weekend, will quickly turn into a knackered old hack and we can all imagine the fate of a knackered old hack.