Article Let’s get the obvious out of the way. We work because we need money and what money buys. But there’s so much more we take home from work than a paycheck. Here are some of the hidden benefits of work we take home to make our lives better.
We Meet Our Partners
I met my wife Claire at work under a set of extraordinary circumstances. Every year I took a trip back to my hometown around July 4th except for one year. I don’t know why, but I just didn’t feel like going. So of course I continued with my normal work activities which included meetings. It was at one such very early meeting that I met Claire. We were the first to arrive. She wasn’t normally at that meeting. She was covering for someone. We got to talking and I learned that she had resigned and had only days left at the company. I asked what she planned to do and she mentioned a few things including hiking. When I got back to my desk I thought about the fact that I had a hiking vacation coming up in Switzerland. So I sent her an email asking if she’d hike with me to help me break in my new hiking shoes. (How romantic). She said yes and the rest is history!
Applying Business Practices to Our Personal Lives
Some of my job responsibilities included supporting budgets, forecasting and planning. Even before I retired I started using those practices to manage my personal finances better. I became a major budgeter and retirement planner (see my videos on personal finance). Using these tools definitely helped me save and plan for retirement.
Who hasn’t been victimized by bad customer service? Knowing what good customer service looks like helps us select better contractors and service providers. It helps us when we deal with disputes. I was fortunate to work for several companies that excelled at customer service. One of my favorites was Amdahl Corporation. We had a saying: A customer problem is an Amdahl problem. When a customer had a problem with one of their computers everyone at Amdahl pitched in as required. We never made it the customer’s problem. In fact Amdahl was a pioneer in detecting problems before they affected the customer. Sometimes a rep would show up with a part in hand to fix a problem we had detected. Customers were impressed and appreciative. The bottom line for me is that I won’t accept bad customer service and I won’t do repeat business with companies who provide bad customer service.
Travel is great for many reasons – relaxation, recreation, relationship building and culture. Through travel we learn to appreciate different lifestyles, customs, food and history. I think travel encourages a worldview that includes empathy, tolerance and acceptance of others. This is especially applicable to living in the US which is diverse in so many respects. I was fortunate to travel a fair amount both domestically and internationally. It was an enriching experience.
Nothing labels you as being “out of it” as falling behind in adoption of technology. I don’t find it “cute” when we make a point of our technical ignorance (better get your 8 year old to help). Learning and applying new technology keeps you engaged mentally and in sync with society. Not to mention all the benefits that technology offers. I was fortunate to work for technology companies and in technology departments. I saw firsthand how technology makes conducting business more efficient and effective. So when it comes to using technology for personal use, I implement those that make life better and easier. Some of my favorites are Google Maps, MyRadar, Weather and Twitter.
Being an effective communicator is more than just being a confident and prolific talker. Effective communications is a two-way street meaning active listening combined with measured talking. Communications is essential for relationships, friendships, negotiations and advocacy to name a few. Too often communications boils down to what I call the “broadcaster – receiver” model. One person talks (a lot) and the other person listens. This results in an unbalanced, stagnant and unrewarding relationship. My work experience included training in active listening, personality types and emotional IQ (take this quiz to check your EIQ). While I don’t claim to be perfect, I at least have a framework to refer to.
This concept applies across all the other ones I mention. It means that you never stop trying to get better, to do better and to be better. It reminds me of a video I watched on the Blue Angeles. As you know, their performances require a lot of precision and skill. After completing their routine they meet to review how they did. Invariably there’s something they could do better. That’s a mindset that encourages growth and continuous improvement (a term I first heard at Amdahl). Whether it’s a blog post, my podcast, pickleball or how I interact with others I strive to do better.
How about you? Are there hidden work benefits that you’re able to apply to your life?