My name is Jim Emmerling, and I am the owner of EM Media, an award winning advertising agencey based in Steubenville, Wheeling and Pittsburgh. Ask my team to rattle off their top 3-5 things I’m known for saying, and, “This isn’t an 8-5 job,” will be somewhere at the top. There is no doubt in my mind that it takes more than normal business hours to be successful by traditional standards, but lately I’ve had to stop and think about how I measure success.
To be honest, I’ve never been good at relaxing. I listen to others talk about work-life balance, see pictures of them on social media relaxing on the couch with a caption that references binge-watching the latest Netflix show, and I feel completely dumbfounded.
I am active. I want to do things. I need to be busy. It drives my wife crazy, and honestly, she’s a saint for putting up with me all the time. She would be completely happy retiring to Amish country. I want the energy of the city always pulsating under my feet.
Lately, I have sensed the beginnings of a change in my heart and mind. This will be my first holidays spent without one of my parents around, and even though I spoke with my mom no less than 2 times day like clockwork, I think you can’t help but be reflective about how you spent your time when you lose someone close to you.
I’ve been forced to think about why I’ve always worked so much. What drove me to put in more hours than everyone else? What was the source of that drive?
I’m not sure I’m anywhere close to answering those questions, but I know that being busy all of the time isn’t necessarily always something to be proud of. Our culture wears being busy like a badge of honor.
“How’s business, Jim?”
“Never been busier.”
“How are the kids, Jim?”
“Staying busy, trying to make a living.”
What are we doing to ourselves? What lessons are we teaching? Where will this obsession with being constantly moving lead us a community, a nation, and a civilization?
In no way am I suggesting that we should settle with being mediocre. I still believe that if you want to be successful, you have to work harder than everyone else. You have to be willing to put in the work when there is work to be done.
I’m talking about what we do with the gaps in between. I’m talking about how much time we spend on our phones and computers. I’m talking about recalibrating our moral compasses to make sure that we are investing in the things that really matter to us.
We only get one trip through this life. That’s it. We get about 75 years, give or take, to do what we are going to do. As we approach the holidays, I’m reconsidering how I want to spend the rest of that trip.
Work will still be a big part of what I do. I love my work with EM.
Pittsburgh will be a huge part of what I do going forward. Opening a Media Center on the North Side has given me new energy and creative ambition. I’m not sure I’ll ever stop wanting to be constantly on the move.
But maybe, just maybe, I’ll take my wife to Amish country more often, and the next time I hear people talk about the latest Netflix show, I’ll grab one of those dozen blankets that I’ve never used and sit down with a couple pops and give this relaxation thing a try.
Maybe that will bring me one step closer to being the best man I can be.
As we enter the holiday season lets all reflect on how we have lived our lives and how from this point on we can help improve the lives of others and ourselves.