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I Chose to Cheat

by Derek Laliberte 03 Nov 2021

2:45pm Thursday, January 21st.

Sitting at my desk, alone in my office with the only light coming from my desk lamp. It’s below freezing outside and the only noise in the room is the oscillating heater I have turned all the way to the “hottest” it will go far right. The only noise I can hear is the wonderful melody of Minnesota, WI a song from Bon Iver (Bohn-ee-VAIR) inside my headphones. The sound of the song goes in and out as I gradually muster up the occasional courage of a cold call. I can hear Jordan Belfort yelling in my ear, “PICK UP THE PHONE!”  

3:25pm Same Day

Bon Iver is interrupted yet again, this time by an incoming call from my wife. As I look down at the phone I wonder for a brief moment what her call could possibly be about this time. I'm guessing it’s an errand I need to run on my way home because we need dog food or something like that. For that brief moment in between rings, I am caught pondering, “what is it that I actually need to be doing that I am not at this very moment.” She catches me off guard though, in a soft voice that reminds me it’s movie night with the kids who are dying to watch “The Empire Strikes Back.” She also mentions they are constantly asking  “When will daddy be home?” She apologizes for bugging me, reassures me that she loves me as I tell her I need to make some progress on the phone before I can come home, but it should be around 6:30pm when I get there. For her, I know she is also curious because Thursdays are her volleyball night and she desperately needs to get out of the house and have “me time,” but she won’t bring that up. From that very moment, that instance is frozen solid in my mind. The dilemma of choosing whether or not to cheat that afternoon has entered my thoughts and has reached the point of no return.

To give you a frame of reference, I am in the first year of business ownership. Selling and servicing clients is paramount to the overall longevity and much-needed growth of our very promising endeavor. Almost every ounce of my body is screaming at me to just pick up the phone and make a call, but not every ounce. The other ounce is tugging on me with the vision of my 8-year-old daughter dressed up as Princess Leah (Sorry, it’s now “Rey”) staring out our picture window waiting for me to pull in the drive There is probably a blanket laid out on the floor, with bowls ready for popcorn and a picnic. Her homework is no doubt already completed, and her shower for the evening already taken, she is literally ready for bed the second the movie ends. The thought won’t escape my mind. I can picture my son telling “Mommy” to have a great night at volleyball in his very innocent yet persuasive six-year-old voice. He is reassuring her that Daddy will have everything under control because he is going to be such a good boy tonight. The only problem, “Daddy” won’t be home for three hours, because Daddy was planning to cheat on his family tonight because he has other priorities.  

The so-called work-life balance struggle is very real for me at this point in my life, or at least it was as I am sure it is for others. You see, I believe that men and women are predisposed to work and on the other hand to love their family, at least it says that in one of my favorite books (I’m pretty sure it’s the first chapter if you want to check my source). It's a guarantee when we put our priorities into one category, will certainly have to borrow from the other. Hence, we are essentially “cheating” on one of them at all times. When we are with our families, work is always there following us around in the form of an email, a text, a client call, the boss needing something, it never leaves our sides. When we are at work, our families are off doing their own thing WITHOUT us, we typically leave for work before our kids go to school and return home long after they have gotten off the bus. For those of you who read this post out of curiosity about what the title possibly could have implied let me go ahead and clear the air.  I may not be the brightest guy, but I am not crazy. Look at the picture of my wife, I would have to be insane. 

“Choosing to Cheat” just so happens to be a book I just finished. It’s about what happens when work and family collide. I have watched countless TedTalks on the Work-Life balance, read articles, and had many opinions on the topic. I have even picked up on a Rolling Stone article on why not to glorify the life and death of Scott Weiland (you know, the lead singer or Stone Temple Pilots) and how he was a very successful yet very detached father but nothing, I mean nothing, can hold a candle to this book (my personal opinion). 

The very unique aspect of what we do as salespeople is that we are typically rewarded or paid to do a thing, not a service. We are designed and trained to “sell" and exceed a quota, period. I am not here to hypothesize or worse off put together a "bullet point list” of the best ways to manage your work-life balance. What I am TELLING you is that if you have to “Cheat" on your job or your family, make sure you choose wisely because only one of them is replaceable. 

If you were my client and you wanted my advice I would ask you the question “what is your hourly rate?” if you don’t know the answer don’t be shocked by this but I am not going to tell you, you will have to pay me for that. If you do know your hourly rate, ask yourself “Am I in the black or the red this week?” Whatever your answer is, your decision on what to cheat on will be made for you. 

4:15pm Thursday, January 21st (Movie Night) 

The thought of “cheating” is overflowing now. Andy Stanley’s convicting and inspiring words are replaying in my head. I love my family with all my heart and surely they know that the problem is they only see my schedule, they can’t see my heart. Surely they realize that I have the best intentions and I really don’t want to skip movie night. They know that right?

4:25pm Movie Night

I am now in my jeep headed for home because I know exactly what my hourly rate is, and it doesn’t come anywhere near ”priceless" (my hourly rate when I am with my family). I have decided to cheat work, in fact, I always cheat on work when I am able. I arrived at home 90 minutes early. I ate dinner with my family, watched a movie with my kids, and demonstrated to my family that THEY are my priority. That little lesson and memory will serve me better than any two hours I could ever put in at the office. Too often we go off to do a job for someone else while we rely on no one to do a job only we can do. I am not willing to compromise that so feel free to call me a cheater I could care less because my kids only know me as a hero.

For me to look anyone in the eye and say that “I want to make a million dollars," or whatever amount would be a blatant lie. “I want to take my wife on another honeymoon, I want to take my family on a vacation, I want to “experience” everything I can with them, I have to make a million dollars. If you are following me what I mean is, work starts out as a means to chase our financial goals, and success can quickly turn into means to chase our egos. Bob Goff once said: “I used to be afraid of failing at something that really mattered to me, but now I’m more afraid at succeeding at things that don’t matter.” 

Are you a working adult possibly in sales or a related field? Are you relying on someone else to do a job at home that only you can do when it comes to your family? “If” you believe I could help you be more effective in sales so you can ultimately get back to it, we can figure it out exactly “how” that would work. On a side note and let the record show, when I play a game of horse whether I am in a position to win or lose the game,  I ALWAYS choose to prove it. 

“Actions speak louder than intentions, nobody can see your heart.” ~Andy Stanley

"Luke, I am your father"

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