People throw themselves into 100-hour work weeks because they are afraid to make choices that others might not understand.
If you work 100-hour weeks, no one (investors, co-founders, employees) can blame you if things don’t work out, right?
I had a moment like this during my first startup, when I was held late at a meeting, and didn’t have time to pick up my wife for a dinner were were supposed to attend.
I dashed off to the dinner about an hour late, and discovered that she wasn’t there, because we were on a trip, and I had forgotten that she didn’t have a car.
So I drove off to pick her up. She was furious, and rightly so. That never happened again.
Back in the 90s, there was a movie called “The Paper“. Michael Keaton stars as a workaholic newspaper man who neglects his pregnant wife, Marisa Tomei.
At one point, he tells her that she’s more important to him than his job, and that he’d choose her without hesitation.
She replies that life never presents us with a single big question, that every day, he’s being asked to choose, and that each time he misses an appointment or doesn’t make it home, he’s making his choice.
I thought about that scene the day I left my wife alone in a hotel room, and I still think of it from time to time.
And I like to think I’ve worked a lot smarter since then.
The life of an entrepreneur can be rough, but at least it’s a life of your choosing. The same can’t be said for your family. Give then a chance to make their own choice.
(This post inspired by Steve Blank’s “Lies Entrepreneurs Tell Themselves.”