Do your personal relationships affect your potential for professional success? Does your home life impact your ability to be a good leader?
“Let’s say this. I’m not sure that a good home is an asset, but I’m sure that a bad home is a liability,” Bishop T.D. Jakes says with a chuckle.
Jakes, pastor of The Potter’s House Church in Dallas and founder of TDJ Enterprises, says a stable personal and home life become more and more important as you grow professionally.
“Lambs give birth in calm places,” he says. “And if you’re going to birth great ideas, you need calmness, the serenity of having something stable to balance having everything not stable.”
“At the end of the day, I’m not necessarily smarter at work because things are going good at home, but when things are going bad at home, I’m a lot more distracted. I’m a lot more disheveled. I’m not present in the moment because a part of me is still grappling with what’s going on at the house.”
Find a balance.
Jakes says the balance of healthy personal relationships—whether at home or in your social support—is critical in maintaining your mental health, as well as your professional potential.
“At work, you are defined by what you do. At home, you are loved for who you are,” he says. “Who you are will always outgun what you do. If you don’t have that balance, you’ll get consumed with what you do and lose sight of who you are. And what you do will eat up who you are—until all you are is what you do. And that’s where depression and suicide begin to cave in on you because balance in greatness is absolutely critical. The higher you go at anything, the more deeply you have to be rooted in something or you lose your balance. I don’t care who you are.”
Jakes says you have to be intentional about that balance and work to create it. The bigger you get as a company or an organization, the harder you have to work at home to get that balance or everything you’ve worked all your life to build will turn around and devour you.
“Some of the brightest light we’ve seen like the Michael Jacksons, the Whitney Houstons, the people who do the most amazing things in entertainment—and entertainment is my world outside of faith—often fall on their sword and die because it is hard to compete with a big life if you’ve got a small home,” he says. “And that’s also true of executives and corporate leaders and politicians.”
Jakes says if you lack that balance—that stable support outside of your professional endeavors—you’ll do something to make up for the deficit. And that something is likely to be detrimental to you both personally and professionally.
“The more successful you are, the more vulnerable you are to that something you do,” he says.
Beyond sending leaders this message, Jakes says it’s important for their families and friends to understand this concept as well: “They must understand that a voluminous person needs voluminous love. You can’t be voluminous over here and be minuscule over there. If you are big here, you are big there. And the bigger you get in one place, the bigger that other part of your life has to be to balance that life. That, my friend, is the truth.”
Stay in the triangle.
The imbalance of your personal and professional life, Jakes says, can kill you. He teaches leaders to surround themselves with three different types of people who keep you balanced.
1. People who need you.
These people give you purpose. Jakes says to think about how we value a product: “What good is a product if nobody needs it? Need determines value. Supply and demand.” It’s important to have people who drive you to work hard, achieve and be consistent. These are people you help, people you train or teach and people you lead.
2. People who feed you.
Just as there is a demand, there must also be a supply. “If you have a certain amount of people in your life who need you, you must have a certain amount of people in your life who feed you,” he says. “Because if you only have people who need you and nobody who feeds you, pretty soon you’re going to go bankrupt and self-implode because none of us are infinite. The flow of what feeds you has to be commensurate to the flow of what needs you. You’ve got to have both.” These people are mentors, loved ones, faith leaders, and others whom you can lean on and learn from.
3. People who want to keep you.
Jakes says there’s a third category that most people overlook, being just as important to your well-being as the people who need or feed you: the people you enjoy and who enjoy you. “They’re just crazy and fun to be with, you know? I’ve got some friends who I’m not going to learn a dadgum thing from—they’re just crazier than all get out. We’re going to talk about some things I hope nobody is recording and we’re just going to act a fool. It’s like going to Hawaii to go to lunch with somebody like that. You might not get to Hawaii, but if you could get to your crazy friend, you’re on the beach and your mind gets a rest. It is neither being drained nor fed. It’s a type of rest for you.”
Jakes says as a leader, you must live in the middle of that trinity of influencers to stay healthy, happy and productive: “Every great person and every person who inspires greatness must live in that prism of those three influences.”