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Business Times Column #59

by Marcus

Do You Bring Your Personal Baggage To Work?

Who you are at work directly affects the team members, customers and your bottom line in profound ways. Each of us travels between two worlds – the personal and the professional. When there is balance, contentment, purpose, success and happiness in one’s life outside of business, the person people take to the work environment is very different than if this is not their reality.

Business owners, managers and anyone else in a leadership role, have the largest impact – positive or negative – in the closed environment at work. These are the people team members look to for direction and guidance. When a leader is lost in their own personal issues, or is unable to separate from them while on the job, the entire team will be impacted to some degree, and a noticeable funk can easily overcome the entire department or business.

We like to think there is a very distinctive barrier between our personal and professional lives that keeps the two separate. However, when you really step back and take an honest look at your own experiences and those of others you have worked with, this is clearly not the case. In fact, it is quite common for one’s personal baggage to be carried right through the front door and unpacked in the workplace.Relationship issues, parenting challenges and extended family matters are common occurrences in the lives of all people. These are real issues that often weigh heavily on the hearts and minds of those affected.When not managed effectively, they can have a lasting and negative impact on attitude and performance. When you add in additional circumstances such as health problems, money difficulties, lack of purpose and fulfillment, and the despair that often accompanies them, you have a recipe for disaster through dysfunctional behaviors.As a business coach and consultant, I have witnessed many top performers lose all sense of direction and focus due to mounting personal issues, and their inability to deal with them in a constructive way. Even after years of dedicated work, it can be a quick slide from the top to the bottom when personal challenges overwhelm one’s ability to function at the high levels they and others have grown accustomed to. An increase in errors and customer dissatisfaction – often due to a lack of focus – coupled with a loss of revenue and the negative impact on the work environment can only be tolerated for so long before they must be let go.But, this doesn’t have to be the case.Personal life challenges belong solely to the person having them – not everyone at work. And, certainly not to the customers who are patronizing the business. One powerful strategy is to view work as a “timeout” – or getaway – from your personal challenges. By placing your attention and energy squarely on the work at hand, you give yourself a much-needed break from the harsh reality of your personal circumstances.I’m not suggesting that one should deny or avoid the challenging realities of their personal life. In fact, my position is quite the opposite. My approach simply suggests that there is an appropriate time and a place for dealing with the difficulties in one’s life, but that – in all likelihood – that place is not at work.Seeking out the professional help of qualified coach to get yourself – and your life – in order, and on track, is a wise choice. It is amazing what can be accomplished with simple changes in perspective, increased awareness, goal setting and accountability supplied through the unbiased support of a competent coach.People are often of the belief that they should just “pull themselves up by the bootstraps”. This is often a difficult and lonely task, however, and if you find yourself challenged to do this on your own, there is no shame in that. There is nothing wrong with you. Just seek out assistance.Life comes with all kinds of unexpected, unwanted and downright challenging situations. They can be difficult, no doubt, but they don’t have to damage or destroy a career or business. If you find yourself living a personal reality that is challenging your ability to function¸ and to be successful and happy, get the help you need. Bring your best – not your baggage – to work. You, your team members and your customers deserve nothing less.

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This article was written for and published in collaboration with The Business Times newspaper.

Access the article here.