Saturday, June 20, 2015

Fathers' Day Special : Regrets of an executive parent

Photo by Johnny Delos Santos

When I was younger and trying to build a career, I was almost always out on working day evenings. I was busy in the office. Some nights I was shooting commercials. I went out drinking with friends. We had lots of parties. Week-long out of town conventions. I had many foreign trips.

Now all my children are grown up. Every now and then I would hear them talk animatedly about what they did together as little kids. Then I would say “ I didn’t see that.”

I have realized how much of my children’s childhood I didn’t see. And there’ no way anyone can bring back the past. Not even all the money in the world.

We actually have a very close family even now. We had great weekends. When the kids were young, we went to beaches and public pools, we had road trips together, we stayed in hotels, we ate in restaurants, we went to Hong Kong. On the days that we didn’t have much money, the family would play dodge ball in the street or in the park. Soft drinks and chips made the experience complete !

But there are only 52 weekends in a year. Over 20 years, there were thousands of dinners that I didn’t share with my wife and my kids.

My lifestyle has changed in the past 11 years. I come home early about ninety percent of the time. But now it’s the kids who are busy with their own lives. So, we’re back to having a great time together only during the weekends.

When I joined my present company 11 years ago, I announced to my staff that our division would have two goals : Quality of Work and Quality of Life.  We worked out some adjustments and hired more people to reduce the need for overtime work. We try our best to work smarter in order to avoid shooting or coming to the office on weekends.

( Many of our writers and editors till choose to stay in the office at night because they’re single and living alone in dorms and condos. )

I know that in some offices, working too hard and being super stressed has become the norm and unofficial benchmark of good performance. The so-called “workaholics” are being emulated. This thinking has to be corrected.

Dr. Richard Carlson has sold more than 10 million copies of his book Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff. He said he finds it strange that the average stress management workshop teaches us to handle more stress. He does not agree to raising tolerance to stress. He said it's better to start “noticing your stress early, before it gets out of hand…When your schedule is getting out of hand, it’s a signal that it’s time to slow down and reevaluate what’s important rather than power through everything on the list.”

He also wrote

"One of the major reasons so many of us remain hurried, frightened and competitive, and continue to live as if life were one giant emergency, is our fear that if we were to become more peaceful and loving, we would suddenly stop achieving our goals. We would become lazy and apathetic.

You can put this fear to rest by realizing that the opposite is actually true. Fearful, frantic thinking takes an enormous amount of energy and drains the creativity and motivation from our lives. When you are fearful or frantic, you literally immobilize yourself from your greatest potential, not to mention enjoyment. Any success that you do have is despite your fear, not because of it."

Let me add that any success we may have will not be greater than being with your spouse and your children in those moments that will never come again.


If you have concerns about your job or if you wish to suggest a topic, you may email me at rglabayen@gmail.com


I would assume that you’re giving me permission to publish your email ( if chosen) and my reply. Your identity will not be disclosed.

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