The last article titled “Priorities Part I: Concerning Freemasonry” discussed our decision to open the blog up to Freemasonry as a resource to draw upon for personal development of entrepreneurs. Today, I will continue the discussion by outlining a list of priorities as presented to me in a recent Masonic Lodge meeting which I have found mirror my experience and would be beneficial to our readers.
Our decision to open the blog up to Freemasonry resulted from a meeting I attended last week at Adams Lodge in Wellfleet, MA. Adams was hosting the first fraternal visit of the new District Deputy Grand Master (DDGM), Darin Krum who started his visit with providing a lecture on priorities. During this lecture he had mentioned the following priorities in his life:
Upon reflecting on this lecture I had considered my own life and priorities and how they had shifted over the years. Early in my career my priorities were mainly work and then family. Freemasonry was not applicable as I was not involved in Freemasonry at that point in my life. My present priorities however mirror that as provided by Darin Krum in his lecture. The topic of priorities is important to entrepreneurs in particular, but needs to be considered for anyone’s life in general.
Why The Shift In Priorities?
Early on in my life I had equated self worth with productivity and at that point climbing the corporate ladder. The harder and longer I worked, the more I was promoted up the chain, it was only natural that something had to suffer. What after all was more important than productivity, for myself, my family, company, and ultimately our country? Isn’t life a series of tradeoffs and sacrifices that one has to make in order to achieve success?
This way of thinking is typical of the male mindset, for further explanation refer to the book Men Are From Mars and Women Are From Venus by John Gray. Although typical I had found this approach over the years to be flawed for several reasons.
First, family serves as the foundation for other activities. A strong family ensures a strong foundation on which to base your other life endeavors. A strong family ensures that one is able to perform strongly at work or within other organizations such as Freemasonry, for those of you who are not Masons substitute your activity of choice. Conversely, a weak foundation weakens other activities and therefore limits one’s effectiveness at work or extracurricular activities. A weak core family generally equates to deficiencies in other areas – something generally suffers. Rob Crochet, A friend from my days in the Marines and a former Marine Corps Drill Instructor said it best – “A happy wife makes for a happy life.”
Second, family is the only constant. When others disagree with your choices, or when it becomes inconvenient to maintain the relationship – either business or personal, most others would walk. Family, I have found will back you unconditionally. Now, they may disagree, kick and scream along the way, or complain, however for the most part a strong family protects their own – fiercely.
Of course there are exceptions to every rule and the intensity of family backing varies from family to family, however in general I have found this to be true. If you do not feel as if you were raised in such an environment, my suggestion is to create it yourself either by starting your own family or a “family” of a close circle of friends. The importance of this cannot be overemphasized. A strong support network is critical for success – especially in a high stress situation such as entrepreneurship. Without a strong family unit – chances of success are slim.
Now concerning work, it is important, but not the be all and end all. Work and productivity are especially important for men – again refer to “Men Are From Mars Women Are From Venus” for further details as to why, however trust me when I say this is true as I can personally attest to it. One of the largest obstacles I had to overcome was dealing with days of low productivity in an entrepreneurial environment. Because the company, or machine as I like to call it, isn’t churning away at a constant rhythm like an established corporation or other business entity, there are days and weeks of very high productivity and periods of very low productivity – both of which have their unique challenges. Again, a strong core family of supporters is essential to successfully navigating these challenges.
Since work and productivity are generally tied to self-worth and state of mind (especially for men) should it not be the first priority? The answer is a resounding no. Without family, there would be little to nothing to work for. Sure, one could argue that one works for material possessions and this may be true for a time, but one generally finds that the importance of material wealth lessens over time. Not to say it is not important, I like wealth and comfort as much as any other capitalist, I just maintain that work, productivity, and the creation of wealth take a back seat to family.
On the other hand, those closest to you – primarily family and close friends undoubtedly bear the brunt of low productivity periods endured by an entrepreneur. Because periods of low productivity will likely be accompanied by instances of lashing out at those closest due to a feeling of low self worth and fear – there is a risk that this could cause a rift in family and friend relationships, however the risk is small. Not to say it isn’t tough, but those closest to you generally know you best. They understand your trials and tribulations and will weather the storm with you for the duration.
The final priority outlined by Darin Krum was that of Freemasonry. Now understand that this priority was situation specific as we were at a Masonic meeting, however for those readers who are not Masons feel free to include your activity of choice, for example Rotary, Toastmasters, community groups, sporting leagues, etc. The point is that the activity does not matter, but it is something that you hold just below family and work but it is important to you nonetheless.
Those who are active in Freemasonry may argue that Masonry, family, and friendship are closely intertwined. I would not argue this point, as I have very close ties to members of the fraternity who I view as family. However, when I discuss Masonry, I mean the fraternity as a whole. Members of the fraternity may be categorized as family, and certain situations as work, however for the fraternity as a whole to be served effectively I tend to agree with the list of priorities.
A strong family allows for more effective service to the fraternity. A weak and potentially problematic family tends to distract from other activities and therefore weakens your involvement in other activities. Next, to some work is not important, and some may work just to enable their ability to play more. However a person has to provide at least some minimum level of effort at work or they will lose their income to allow for extracurricular activities. If one prioritizes an outside activity higher than work, the individual’s source of funding for said activity will likely suffer and result in less and/or weaker participation.
In my experience the combination of smart and hard work (in that order) generally correlates to an individual’s income and net worth. A strong family allows for a strong concentration on work and more deliberate practice towards said work. More deliberate practice generally equates to an increase in income and net worth which in turn allows for disposable income, to partake in such activities. Even better yet, an increase in disposable income allows for increased donations or volunteer time should one be willing.
To Be Continued…
This series on priorities will conclude with the inclusion of another priority which should make your list.
A strong family sets the foundation for effective work and participation in outside activities!