By Ashton Ward. Published on 27 September 2016
I am fortunate to lead an outstanding team at Eton Bridge Partners, each of us with the same objective: To be the most trusted partner in executive search and interim management.
We launched our business in September 2010 in the aftermath of the UK’s deepest recession in living memory. Now, six years on, we continue to focus on being the best in class at everything we do. This is engrained in our culture, and ensures that we continuously raise our standards, not allowing complacency to creep in.
During this time, it has been essential for me to adapt to change. My personal journey has been a steady transition, from delivering for my clients and interim managers, to leading and managing the broader business.
A PERSONAL TRANSFORMATION
Simplistically, I have transitioned from working ‘in’ the business to working ‘on’ the business. In the early days I spent 80% of my time on client delivery and 20% managing the business. Now, 80% of my time is spent on the business and 20% on client delivery.
I now have more time. More time to spend with people in the business. More time to listen. More time to think. More time to consider opportunities.
This additional time has also given me a greater sense of perspective. With a greater perspective comes improved vision and decision making.
Arguably I forced this move on myself, knowing that I could not commit appropriate time to the business if I continued to invest the majority of my time with my clients. As a senior interim provider, you literally have to drop everything and focus on client delivery when there is an urgent need. I couldn’t do justice to my clients and to the business. This was a big challenge for me, and with hindsight focussing more on the business was absolutely the right thing to do.
PAUSE FOR THOUGHT
Life as a hands on executive recruiter is a 24/7 all-consuming career. The adrenalin of success and the fear of failure are intense. You certainly need high levels of energy and tenacity. Living with stress, frustration and disappointment goes with the territory, as does a huge sense of achievement when you really make a difference to your clients.
Earlier in my career I didn’t create any time for myself, apart from the odd trip to the gym. The intensity, stress and high levels of adrenalin from wanting to deliver for our clients made me ill. I was diagnosed with colitis and had a serious health scare.
At the time, my business coach recommended that I take time each day to be compassionate with myself. To pause for thought. This was the start of a much bigger transformation in my life. I wanted to find something which was good for my physical fitness, where I could be alone and, most importantly, I needed to switch off and give my mind a break.
THROW YOURSELF IN AT THE DEEP END
So, I started to swim. And I have done so almost every working day of my life for the last four years. It ticks all the boxes for me – fitness, time alone and mental break.
I take my thoughts out of the office. I sit in my car for ten minutes driving to the pool. I do my lengths and then I go back to the office, often with a greater sense of perspective and clarity of thought. When you switch off, the power of the unconscious mind is incredible.
Wherever possible I encourage my colleagues to do the same. Take time out. Go for a walk, or go to the gym. Go home early and don’t miss bath time with the kids!
Balance and perspective are essential ingredients for a successful career and business. Leaders who embrace this are already ahead of the competition.
MY 5 THOUGHTS FOR BUSINESS LEADERS WHO FIND THEMSELVES WITH LITTLE TIME FOR PERSONAL REFLECTION…
> Take time out for yourself
> Pause for thought
> Healthy body, healthy mind
> Surround yourself with great people
> Recognise where you can add most value