Last year, Harry’s teamed up with the experts at University College London to conduct the largest, most academically robust survey into British masculinity ever—and a lot of what I saw in those findings really resonated personally. Understanding how culture has traditionally defined masculinity, and how the pressure to live up to those expectations can impact a person’s well-being, has helped me realize the importance of living according to my own values, and those of my family, rather than what society may view as “normal” or “right.”
One of the most personally revelatory findings from the report shows that unhappiness in the work place is the biggest predicator to general unhappiness. It can affect mood, mental and physical health and (for myself specifically) my ability to be a great dad to my daughters, and spouse to my partner. Admittedly, I have over-prioritized work at times in the past, and I’ve missed out on things as a result.
In the context of how that relates to my work-life balance, Harry’s allows me to thrive in two ways. To start, I genuinely feel like I’m part of a great team on a really exciting journey. I get a buzz from charting my own path and working towards a greater sense of purpose (vs crunching out a 9-5, I’ve done that and it’s not me)—it gives me the energy to show up every day and be my best self, both at work and at home. Because while I’m driven to achieve professionally, I also want to be someone my kids grow up feeling close to.
The values that guide Harry’s as a company creates an environment where it’s possible to accomplish both. There is a real belief that while work is an important part of your life, it’s not all of your life. There’s no outdated rule where I’m required to be chained to my desk 7 days a week, or even physically present for every meeting. I’m encouraged to find the balance that works best for me and my family. Which means I don’t have to miss the key moments, and even get to be there for the normal things too.
My partner Emma and I moved down to Brighton about 12 years ago where we live with our daughters Lila (10) and Georgie (8)—it’s close enough to London, but also a vibrant alternative. I can’t think of anywhere better to bring them up. I make sure to get home early at least once a week and try my best to be there for the girls’ bedtime. I stay off emails after hours, and work from home as often as I can (once a fortnight at the present). On those days I get to do the school run, I really enjoy this moment and wish I could do it more often, but it’s the compromise I have to make living where we do and working in London.
The week is a bit of a blur, so we have always tried to maximize the weekends. Sundays are my favourite day, a slow start is often followed by either lunch with friends, or a walk to the beach, or heading out to the country. Sunday nights have always been “Daddies Salon” (bath, hair wash, nails)—more often I’m policing who’s turn is first, water temperature, and stopping the room from flooding. Emma gets to hear the entire charade, yet we go again the following week.
Even though we have less time than we’d like, we know it’s about making what we do have count, being present, being connected. Laughing. A lot. I don’t always get it exactly right. At times I still find myself overly consumed with work and the rest of life. But I also try to recognize those moments where I feel I’m losing my balance and do my best to course correct.
I trust in my family at home for their guidance, and I trust in my team at Harry’s for their support, and it’s helped me to realize that happiness in the workplace can be one of the biggest predicators to general happiness—I’ve also learned it’s possible to be successful in my role as an father, a colleague and as a man.
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