888 is a fantasy – Go all in if you want to be successful!

It is 8 pm. I have had dinner with my family and helped clean up. After I post this article, I will walk with my wife. I’ll then do another hour or so working on my next book, “Yes For Success – How to clarify your future and create a plan that tells you exactly what to do to get there.”

Am I “working” when I write this article? Is it “work” when I edit my next chapter?

I don’t know. It isn’t how I view my time.

Am I producing? Yes, 100% I am.

Too many people, including young professionals entering the workforce, have been “sold” a false idea. The idea goes like this: Work eight hours, play eight hours, and sleep eight hours. I call it the “8 8 8 Philosophy”. This philosophy also suggests that when you get a job, demand your employer consider your life-balance requests and ensure you get paid for every minute of your work.

Folks, anyone who thinks they can be successful in life and afford to pay for whatever your definition of life-balance and success means to you, and follow this philosophy, is in for a shock.

Not a single successful person you can name, not one of them, have lived their life like that.

Did Julia Gillard live by that rule? Gina Rinehart? Anthony Albanese? Shemara Wikramanayake?

Did Ghandi? Mandela? Mother Teresa?

Do Janine Allis? Mark Bouris? Layne Beachley?

None of them live by that rule. None.

If you want to be successful in whatever endeavour matters to you, you must COMMIT. You must go all-in.

Does this mean life-balance is unattainable for these people?

No, it doesn’t. One of the significant benefits of going all-in is that it forces you to understand your commitments and to make conscious choices around them. I have five children and have run my business for 17 years. Michelle and I chose to be a single-income family for eight years. We made a conscious choice about where we would dedicate our time and how to create our version of success. For both of us, raising children who would become decent adults who would contribute to society was, and remains to this day, an essential goal, as was being able to afford to live our definition of success and life-balance. None of us can avoid the economic reality within which we live. It is a vital consideration. What will your definition of life-balance and success cost? Do you know?

Part of my definition of success meant I didn’t want to be an absent father. Therefore, I committed to coaching and other support roles in their sport and facilitating leadership sessions at their school. I used my skill set to help the school and simultaneously be involved with my children. These commitments required dedication and attendance to ensure I did those roles correctly. Again, I committed.

Folk, commit to your career. Commit. Do what you have to do to produce outstanding results. Always, always, always do your core role well. Then, look for opportunities, gaps if you like, that aren’t being done or could be done better. Offer to add these to your role. Maintain your existing standards. After making the “extra” part work, ask for a pay-rise. Never beforehand.

When I commercialised the fitness centre at the Monash University Caulfield Campus in the early 1990s, Chisholm Hall was about 30 metres from the entrance to the fitness centre. Bands and many events were held in the hall. I noticed the wooden floor was marked for basketball, handball, indoor soccer, volleyball, and badminton.

Students and staff would play “casual sports” in the hall. It operated on a first-in, best-dressed “system.”

I could see an opportunity to start a formal competition where students and staff could form a team and compete with each other for the status of “champion” for their given sport.

I offered to start a Campus Sports program and manage it through the fitness centre. I would recruit referees and pay them through the competition’s entrance fees. I used the fitness centre to market the Campus Sports program to the university community. Various fitness centre staff were either already Physical Education teacher qualified or were earning a teaching degree or similar field. I offered them the opportunity to referee, and several accepted the offer. I recruited the remaining referees from the student population, which meant we were giving jobs to students, another excellent outcome.

One morning, while he was working out in the fitness centre, I pitched the idea to the organisation’s general manager. I had my plan ready. I said I could make all this happen at no net cost to the organisation because I was confident everything, including the necessary equipment, could be paid for via the entrance fees. I didn’t say anything about paying me more for making this happen. He agreed and said, “Make it happen.” So, I did.

All the while, the work I was doing leading and growing the fitness centre and its membership base had to continue. I could not take my eye off that ball for a second.

The Campus Sports program was a raging success and continued for decades after I moved on from the role. Some of you reading this post may have played in competitions in Chisholm Hall or worked out in the Fitness Centre and never knew I started both of them. Please, pop a comment below if that sparks a memory for you.

After two terms of the program, with rave reviews from the students and staff who participated, I approached the general manager for a pay-rise.

To my surprise and gratitude, he not only gave me a pay-rise but raised it more than I had pitched and back-paid me for the two terms I had already completed doing the work. I did not expect to be back-paid. That was a bonus, for sure!

Throughout my career, I continued looking for opportunities and closing gaps that seemed evident to me. I never took my eye off my core role for “shiny objects” and was fortunate to have been supported by a good leader who backed me each time. This is key. Do not go after “shiny objects” if you cannot maintain a high standard in your core role.

From the outside, many people think I work a lot. Compared to them, I do. I have three degrees and completed four Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) program subjects. My last two degrees and the four subjects of the DBA were completed while raising our family, starting my business, and completing 11 marathons. Oh, and I have published some books, including a bestseller.

8, 8, and 8 never entered my mind. We all have far more time than we understand to create our version of life-balance and success. I don’t waste time because I am deliberate and conscious about where and what I focus on.

The problem is that many of you haven’t worked to define life-balance and success for yourself, leaving you vulnerable to the 8,8,8 Philosophy. It doesn’t work. It never has, and it never will. It is like an anchor on a boat already on the beach. You won’t get anywhere. When you clearly define life-balance and success, you can commit and go all in.

Have you?

By Gary Ryan

Gary Ryan helps talented professionals, their teams and organisations, move Beyond Being Good®