We were running a leadership programme for a group of senior project managers for a global company. As part of a one-week programme, we had a half-day session with a poet around the importance of the need to have what he termed "courageous conversations" with the different aspects of your life. The session had a huge impact on everyone, as it made them reflect on the balance and tensions between their personal and work live.
After the session, one of the participants approached me. He was in his mid-thirties an pretty easy going. He said: "Can I have a quick word?" and then proceeded to break down in to little pieces. The session with the poet had had a profound effect on him.
Over the next hour he explained his problem. He had been working 60 - 70 hours a week for many months to meet the huge expectations his company had of him. He was working evening and some weekends just to keep all his balls in the air. When he finally did get home, he faced the huge expectations of his wife and two young children who then assumed he was now "theirs".
As he put it: "I just don't know how I am anymore. I cannot remember the last time I eve had a drink with a friend, or sat down and read a book.
Between his work world and his personal world, he had simply disappeared.
Extract from My Steam Engine Is Broken by Dr Mark Powell and Jonathan Gifford.