Business Life and Real Life

The other day I noticed a correlation between Life and Projects/Businesses.

Imagine a business is a person. It would face many of the same challenges that a “real” person does. This seems like an obvious observation, but the truth is harder to articulate. Formulas make this a lot clearer. This is the best way for a non-mathematician to illustrate this point, right?

The “Life” model

First, lets look at a “real” person’s life model. Think of the following as the scope and model of your life. We account for time, loves, losses, chores, and duties, and more! The formula itself is simplistic. I intentionally didn’t incorporate the entirety of life’s complexities when drafting it. It’s like PIXAR’S: InsideOut™, but with an uncaring, unfeeling formula instead of cute and funny characters.

Life = (Jobs + Interests + Family) * Time 
Interests = (Passions + X) 
Job = (Skills + Motivation + Work) + Compensation 
Work = (Things-Want-to-do)/2 + (Things-Have-to-do)*3 
Career = (Job * Time) 
so that 
Life Complexity = (Time * Family(1,2,3) )² — Interests 
Interests_Execution = (Time * Compensation) — Job_Duration

You can see that as life complexity increases, there is a reduction of your ability to pursue your personal interests. Most of us need a job to fund our lives. Increasing the amount of money you have may not lead to more happiness or productivity.

The “business” model

Let’s do a thought experiment. Replace “Life” with “Business”. Change “family” to “staff”. The formula still makes sense doesn’t it?

Your business staff may increase at an exponential rate, thus increasing complexity. Often, you must focus on needs over what you might consider the best interest of the business. For example, a new software feature that you know will be well received by users. Months will go by, despite the clamoring for it. Instead, security patches, database upgrades, or regulatory changes will occur.

That business scenario echoes a life scenario where your family cancelled a vacation. Why? Because the cat got sick, the car needs repairs or work is “just too busy” to leave.

Interesting, right? Let’s again assume business is a person.

“Work/life balance” is an important and often talked about topic in our industry. I argue that a business has similar needs and considerations. “Business/life” balance also exists, as a business struggles with the similar dilemmas.

The key difference? Businesses can’t exist without Life.

What’s your point?

I see two points:

First, a business is very much like a family. It thrives when shown the same level of empathy and forgiveness that you’d show to a family member. Remember there are the things you want to get done and the things that need to get done. Growth occurs when you make those tradeoffs.

The second point is about the observation of human behavior. Humans tend to anthropomorphize. Adult behaviors and relationships are echoes of the relationships we had as children. Humans carry ideals from one stage in life to another. Now look at your business — it’s hard to know intention, but we tend to create businesses very much in our own likeness we well.

Parents -> Children 
Humans -> Businesses

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