The ability to successfully balance the obligations of a demanding job with those of your happy family is likened both to walking on a tightrope or juggling. Both tasks are difficult and require focus, determination, and skill. There’s no one who has learned that lesson betTer than Robert L. McKenna III is a California lawyer.Who handles high-profile litigation defense cases at work and who has the responsibility of being single father of two children at home.
The much-quoted Sept. 6, 1991 Georgia Tech commencement speechDelivered to you by Coca-Cola CEO Brian Dyson: “Imagine a life as a game in which you are juggling some five balls in the air. You name them work, family, health, friends, and spirit… You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. You can drop it and it will rebound. ButAll four of the balls are made out of glass. These balls can be dropped and will become irrevocably damaged or shattered. You will not be the same. You must understand that and strive for balance in your life.”
There is good news: per none other than near-ubiquitous entertainment icon/entrepreneur Oprah Winfrey is, “You can have it all — just not all at once.”
How can you have it all? Robert L. McKenna III believes as long as you’re mindful of your priorities, flexible when it comes to change, and committed to your family, keeping the glass balls in the air is a manageable feat — and one that can bring great fulfillment.
Learn the Difference Between Quantity and Quality Time
“We think, mistakenly, that success is the result of the amount of time we put in at work, instead of the quality of time we put in.” — Arianna Huffington, Greek-American author, columnist, publishing entrepreneur
If the COVID-19 pandemic has had any silver lining at all, it’s been the ways in which the dynamics of the workplace and family time have co-mingled — for many, irrevocably. While this evolving hybrid archetype has resulted in a “brave new world” for Robert McKenna advises working parents to make the most out of blended environments.It’s the ability to change with new needs and be flexible.
Pre-COVID, workers often had to choose between long commutes or quality of life. The rise of distributed workers led to new revelations. They were as life-altering and life-affirming. “It’s worked out very well for a lot of people who, due to the economic climate, live far away from their jobs,” says McKenna.
“Suddenly, they didn’t have to make that commute every single day. If you get back 20 hours every week that you don’t have to spend in traffic, you’re going to be a happy person.” Sure, some of those extra 20 hours a week can be plowed back into your company but the bulk of those hours can be invested in quality time spent with your family.
It’s a good thing! McKenna & his company Kjar, McKenna & Stockalper, LLPNot only could the partner see the changes coming, but he also accepted them. “I think the saving grace for us was just not necessarily being lucky enough to Be open to the possibility of change, but also to seeing it as an opportunity to take inventory and improve our current processes. This allowed us to determine where our people were needed, and the best ways we could simplify things. It’s a matter of being open to change.e really gave us an opportunity to come out on top,” McKenna says
There are many other unexpected benefits to having a distributed workforce. “For firms, especially the ones that did a good job getting everybody remote early on, it became clear that most people can get their job done remotely,” McKenna explains, “and without a decline in productivity or work product.”
McKenna explains that McKenna is grateful for the support of other businesses going through downsizing or losing critical employees at a difficult time.His forward-thinking policy of off-site work actually helped his company grow during the pandemic.
“Folks wanted to work at a place that respected their health and the health of their loved ones,” he recalls. “We found that the experienced people could manage their time and their work.” In an effort to retain their new hires, Kjar, McKenna & StockalperA three-day-at-home and two-days on-the-job workweek was adopted. This has been met with overwhelming approval.
Learn To Appreciate Your Blessings
“Never get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life.” — Dolly Parton, entertainer, songwriter, entrepreneur, philanthropist
Robert McKenna was a single parent for about seven years before the pandemic. “It was just me and my kids,” he recalls. His sister moved near to him to transport his kids to school, but he insists that his primary responsibility was parenting.
“When school shut down, I sent everybody to work remotely and I brought my kids into the office and set them up,” McKenna recalls. His transition was made easier by the fact that Matthew, Matthew’s son was a junior high school student and Katie, Katie was a sophomore high school graduate. “They’re very tech savvy and they were mature enough to get by without a lot of supervision.”
McKenna was able to monitor his children during the day from his office. However, McKenna said that being close to his kids is the best thing about the redesigned workplace. “I never would have had the opportunity to have lunch with my kids every day, Monday through Friday,” he admits gratefully. “It was just the three of us, and I spent more time with them… it was just a blessing, really.”
Make a conscious effort to be there for your kids
“You will never find time for anything. If you want time, you must make it.” — Charles Buxton, 19th-Century brewer, philanthropist, author, member of British Parliament
No matter if you like the idea of juggling balls or thinking in terms of the physical act, it doesn’t really matter.Robert McKenna views life as a series of check-ins and balances that evolves into a strategy. He says consistency is the key to finding the winning formula. In order to harmoniously blend your schedule with your family’s schedule, follow these rules:
- Declutter and save timeDeciding the work-related issues you need to handle, and those that can be delegated.
- Import the important dates and events from your family’s calendars to yours.
- Take some time for yourself and be available to your family.
- Don’t let yourself be guilted or pressured into falling back into an “I’m on-call 24/7” work mentality.
Robert McKenna says that while it is great to win at work, his best life moments have been the ones he spends nurturing others. mentorinHis children. He cites his ability to see beyond the dated stereotypes as a key factor in helping him achieve success.
While it wasn’t unusual for him to be a Boy Scout leader, as a single dad, McKenna also was flexible enough to embark on a similar role with the Girl Scouts Katie. “It was great,” he recalls. “There were 14 girls, 13 moms, and me who would go on campouts. We did that for probably about five years.”
McKenna explains that since, technically, men weren’t allowed within a hundred yards of a Girl In Scout camp, he set up his tent at the nearest campsite so that he could join in on their activities. “It was nice for me, and it made Katie feel really special that I did that for her,” he says.
Time for sharingMcKenna was also able to share his own experience with the Girl Scouts and his daughter. McKenna notes learning the proper way to retire an American flag is a ceremony that’s long been part of the Boy Scout syllabus. It was something he’d been able to pass along to his son, and he felt the patriotic tradition was something that should be shared with his daughter and her scout mates as well.
“There are a certain number of steps you go through to retire a flag,” McKenna explains. “I’d done it with the Boy Scouts, but I wanted to teach the girls how to do it as well, so I introduced it over on the Girl Scouts side.”
The final and most important piece of advice Robert McKenna has to offer about being a mindful parent is this: “Make time while you have time because if you blink, it’s over, and you’re never going to get your kids’ childhoods back.” It’s something he notiMatthew learnt to drive in the same time as ced.
“Once your oldest kid starts driving, your life will fundamentally change in ways you did not anticipate,” he says, “and in some ways, for the better.” Once Matthew had a car, he was able to get his sister and himself to school, as well as “every practice, every dentist appointment, every everything,” says McKenna. As a working father, it meant a lot less juggling, but as “Dad,” it meant his kids were growing up and would soon be leaving the nest.
“It’s bittersweet,” McKenna admits. “They’re 19 and 18 now, and they’ve just grown into such lovely people… so I think I must have been doing something right.”
Robert L. McKenna, III on How to Blend Mindful Parenting with a Successful Career appeared first at Enterprise Podcast Network – EPN.