The Times of London: How is Your Work/Life Balance?

From The Times
December 18, 2007

How is your work/life balance?

The US life coach Ginger Cockerham, who gives laser coaching to Times readers,
talks to a hotelier in Wales


Ginger Cockerham

Gerry Wilkinson, 53, owns and runs a hotel in Rhayader, Wales, that he bought four years ago after more
than 15 years as an executive in risk management. His wife and two grown-up children work with him. He
says: “I completed the questionnaire and failed. My score was 16. I also completed the questionnaire as I
was four years ago and came through with flying colours – probably because I was a comfortable family
man with a highly paid job and a beautiful home.” He says that the demands of running an 18hrs+/sevenday
business have diminished the work/lifestyle balance he once had. “Sorted? I don’t think so!”

Gerry’s typical working day
6.30am
Wake up. Shower. Start getting things up and running in hotel kitchen. We have two chefs who work
during the day, but I tend to run the morning shift and prepare cooked breakfasts for the guests. The hotel
is normally full, with about 45 people staying.
8am Guests start coming down. In between serving breakfast, I’m in the dining room greeting them.
9am Leave staff to finish serving and cleaning up breakfast. Start to check people out of hotel.
9.30am Grab a bite when I can.
10.30am Finish checking people out. Start getting ready for lunchtime session. I make sure we’ve got staff around, but a lot of the time it’s doing it yourself – laying the tables, cleaning the bar, etc.
12-2pm Lunch is served. I’m on my feet, in and out of kitchen, interacting with guests, and serving. I eat lunch on the fly.
2-3.30pm I start to pull back a bit. I have an office in the hotel which is shared with the receptionist and my wife who does the accounts. After lunch I start doing one of my key roles, which is marketing.
3.30-4.30pm Walk the dog along the river. It’s an hour to clear my head and look back over the day. But I’m always on call.
4.30-7pm Continue with hotel admin.
7pm Dinner with my wife, sometimes with the family.
8-11pm We watch a bit of TV, unwind with some wine. Our drinking habits have changed for the worse. Before, I would have a glass of wine in the evening and now we tend to split a bottle.
11pm Bed

Ginger says . . .
Gerry said the process of mapping out how he spends each day, and then laser coaching, has been a
real “wake-up” call for him.

He said that it is unusual for a man at his age to have the opportunity to create a great environment
where he has all his family around him in a place he loves. Besides his wife, his adult children and
grandchildren are there, as well as his ageing parents.

He said that this coaching process has given him clarity about what is not working in his life – such as
being available 24 hours a day seven days a week, and doing menial tasks around the hotel that keep
him busy constantly. He said that it was being available almost 100 per cent of the time that is so stressful
to him.

With his business background, he has learnt how to compartmentalise, but isn’t using those skills at the
hotel. His wife, Linda, without that business experience, doesn’t have a model for creating that separate
time. He decided to establish a personal model that would be beneficial for himself and be a good
example for Linda.

We discussed what he was willing to commit to doing immediately. He said he would schedule a day for
spending time with his grandchildren without interruption. Also, he put on his calendar a day away for he
and his wife to enjoy being together without any mention of their business.

He also committed to saying “no” to three things that he was doing at the hotel.

Coach’s note: Gerry said the assignments would be three simple things that are not being done right
now. He said he would e-mail me about what happened on the days away and what he has said “no” to
doing.

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