John Drury - Worklife Integration
John is a powerful presenter, trainer, facilitator, mentor and author. His painful personal experience with burnout, and subsequent recovery while in a senior leadership role, motivated him to start helping other high achievers, business owners, corporate executives and leaders in similar positions to turn their personal and professional lives around.
Since 2010, John has helped hundreds of busy people on the brink of burnout to integrate their work with their personal lives. Through his guidance and proven Whole-of-Life methodology, they have gone on to successfully pursue audacious business goals and build and implement healthy and holistic lifestyles.
John believes that it is possible to achieve extraordinary success and build a great lifestyle without neglecting all that is precious to you personally. This book will show you how.
His Story – John Drury
I feel like I have always been a high achiever, from an early age at school and sport, always being the leader of what I have been involved in from cricket teams through to music groups. I didn’t realise at the time but looking back I realise that I had grown accustom to success, that I was used to the things that I put my hands at going well. The upside of this is that you do well academically, you get jobs and you are able to set a clear career path. However, the challenge of it becomes that you are used to always succeeding, no matter what. As life became more complex with marriage, children, religion and starting a church, the challenge was that with how far I had stretched myself I started to see limits in my capacity which I wasn’t used to. I was emotionally being drained in the service of others, when you are being drained at work and then come home to the ordinary pressures of life such as money, building a home and family relationships, it quickly takes its toll. I ended up at a place where when I would finally get a day off after working 60 or 70 hour weeks, I found that I had forgotten how to relax. Instead of unwinding I would become fidgety, grumpy, and unsure of what to do with myself. In the past, I had played sport and music but had given these away as life had become too busy for them. I found that it was easier to work and ignore the problems as opposed to recognising what was wrong and the limitations which were becoming apparent. It took until my early 40’s to recognise this, I kept up a front and the challenges were hidden from others, with the exception of my wife and possibly my daughters who I suspect knew what was going on.
As a business mentor now, to those I was classify as belonging to that high achievers category, I see so many people who are driven, who are passionate but who are in danger of not looking after themselves or recognising just how close they are to the state that we describe as ‘burnout’. In my case, our marriage did not survive, I had to resign from my role as pastor of the church and I took 12 months to regroup. I was ostracised and felt isolated, not having realised until this point just how lost I had become or how disconnected I had come from myself. It took almost three years for me to find a way out of this, the solutions in many ways were much simpler than I had expected. I ended up living on my own in a flat, my daughters were unsure of how to relate with their father who had fallen from a high social position to someone others felt betrayed by and working a part-time job simply to earn money to live off. I joined an exercise class which met three times a week, exercise being something that I had not done regularly for 20 years. After the first three or so weeks, once my muscles which hadn’t been used for some time had adjusted, I discovered just how much of a stress release exercise was. I would come home from a class not just physically wrecked but also emotionally relieved. It took about 3 months until I was physically fit, I felt good about my body again but it was the emotional benefits that surprised me. I have since done a lot of reading on the research around the connection between exercise and emotional health, physical activity became my drug of choice. I recognise now that had I caught onto this regular exercise routine some twenty years ago I may have been able to avoid the burnout. For the first time in years I was doing something for myself and spending both money and time on me, I had forgotten how to do things for me.
I then enrolled in personal development courses, something else which was for me. Instead of acting as a victim, I was focused on learning how to take responsibility and how to work on the different areas of my life. I also focused on personal growth, completing executive coaching courses which was initially as much therapy as it was training. I focused on rebuilding relationships before then focusing on what I wanted for the future.
After a couple of years, I ran a small business which I found I was successful with, before moving into the field of consulting which focused around helping people to grow their own businesses. During my time as a pastor I had recognised my love for helping others to unlock their full potential, the church offered a lot of mentoring particularly to its younger members around discovering their purpose and passion. I found that I had a knack in consulting but what I was truly passionate about was helping high achievers to find a place where their personal life is a successful as their business life. Though it is a different form of mentoring, there is a common thread of wanting to aid people to achieve their potential. I now call myself a business mentor, predominantly working with business owners and corporate executives.
The focus is on teaching others how to integrate work with their personal life, I don’t believe in the concept of work-life-balance, as what you really need to develop is true integration. People don’t recognise that when you are driven and when you are passionate you become vulnerable to becoming unbalanced, you are not automatically a workaholic. Work-life balance assumes that when you are at work you work hard but when you are outside of work, you do not turn your thoughts to work otherwise you are a workaholic, this is just not a concept which is possible to achieve. It is not necessarily a bad thing to think about work outside of work, as long as you are able to manage it so that it does not negatively impact on your relationships with your partner, your children and those other people who matter to you most. That is why I prefer to concept of integration as opposed to balance.
Advice to self and others
I find that a lot of people that I have worked with have never sat down and mapped out their lives, they have never defined for themselves what it is. One of the exercises I get my clients to do early on is a mind map focusing on the areas of responsibility that they carry, highlighting that this responsibility extends beyond your job or your marriage to things such as the responsibility for your own health or financial responsibilities. People never realise just how much they are responsible for. Once you have defined what it is that makes up your world, you are able to prioritise and to then put in barriers around protecting those priorities. It is about learning to say no to somethings, those things which are not essential to who you are. If you are going to be successful and a high achiever, then you are going to gain responsibilities which you are going to learn to need to manage otherwise those responsibilities will crush your capacity which may reflect itself in other areas of your life. This may mean that you abandon looking after your health or that you fail to help a family member who is in crisis or your marriage suffers, because you do not have the capacity to put in the energy and efforts into these areas.
Many of my habits are now centred around exercise and diet, I am careful about how I look after my body. I have developed morning routines, starting the day early and taking time to stretch, to exercise, to listen to a podcast or reading something. It is about beginning the day by feeding my mind with something positive. I also have habits around planning whether it be annually, quarterly or daily. I plan my day the night before, in a way which optimises efficiency but still allows for flexibility, I leave margins for time for myself. It is about putting in structure around looking after yourself, for us we plan in a way which allows as a break at the end of each tax quarter, over Christmas and a long weekend every four weeks. It is what I refer to as a rhythm of life, if we work 7 weeks intensely then when it comes to a week off we are too tired to enjoy or utilise it. We have learnt that we need that long weekend every four weeks to maintain us. This enables both my wife and I to build our respective successful businesses, whilst building a great life together. We always have our holidays planned, booked, and paid for a year in advance, they are the first thing that we entered in our calendars.
I have written a book, Integrate, which explores my thesis around work life integration. The starting point is not what many people assume, it is not about being more organised, improving time management or being able to fit more into a day. Whilst this is important, there are two steps which need to happen before this. The starting point is self-respect, knowing who you are, knowing your strengths and weaknesses, becoming comfortable within your own skin, and building the confidence within yourself. The more that you are able to define yourself the easier it becomes to say yes to the things which reflect what you really want and to say no to the things which may be appealing but are not at the heart of who you are or what you want. I believe that most, up to 90% of issues that undermine your business career or your corporate career, will come from neglected areas in your personal life. This is not something that we are taught, we all know about business plans but not about life plans. My book is available on the website, Kindle and in some book stores.
Another book in this space that I would recommend is Busy: How to thrive in a world of too much by English psychologist Tony Crabbe, I found every chapter of this book helpful.
One of my other favourite authors is John Maxwell, who is a leadership writer, also wrote one of my favourite quotes, ‘you will never change your life until you change something you do daily, the secret of your success is found in your daily routine’. I have found this to be true for myself in that you can do all the planning but it means nothing unless you act and build routines to make your life work.
My website is Johndrury.biz with my email also available on the website. If you want to talk about how to make your life work, I mentor business executives over a three-month period with fortnightly sessions. If you are business owner, I work with business owners all over Australia mentoring them not only around growing their businesses but also around delegating to your team in order to ensure that they still have their own lives, including holidays.