David DeWolf and the Integrated Life

The DeWolf Family

The DeWolf Family

You know that guy who manages to do it all and look good doing it? His name is David DeWolf, and I’ve come to find out that he does not, in fact, have a superpower that none of the rest of us can access.

David is CEO of 3Pillar Global, a company he founded and now travels internationally to run. He’s also a Catholic husband and father. Did I mention he has six kids? And that he does about 100 other things too?

So, no, I couldn’t resist asking David a few questions, especially since I know he has a passion for living an integrated life.

SARAH: David, you run an international corporation and you travel so much I think you must wear out airplanes. Tell us how you tie all the busy in your life with living an authentic Catholic life.

DAVID: I think you just answered your own question. The key is tying it all together. The world tries to sell us this lie that we need to separate our faith from our profession and our family from our work. “Balancing” competing priorities just doesn’t work – by its very nature the word “balance” implies that the two cannot coexist.

As I’ve looked back on my own life and how I’ve been able to fight the good fight over the years, I have been able to boil the progress I’m making down to four key guiding principles that I suggest other ‘entrepreneurial leaders’ (Type A professionals tend to fit this mold) keep in mind: know who you are, see where you’re going, develop healthy habits, and live with humble confidence.

You can’t live an integrated life if you don’t know who you are. What is your Vocation? What are your vocations? What are the talents you’ve been given? What is your passion? Where is your heart?  If you can’t answer these questions, it’s hard to know what God wants from you and who you’re supposed to be.  You can’t integrate what you don’t know.

Without Vision the people perish. The same applies to your personal life. Without seeing where you’re going, it will be difficult to stay on the road. Many entrepreneurial leaders are visionaries in business. Why is it, then, that they don’t create a vision and strategy for their own lives? It’s important that we take the time to know where we’re trying to go.  By doing this, we can set objectives and develop strategies for getting there.

Integrating aspects of your life that could otherwise fight against each other takes discipline. A well thought out morning routine, for example, is a great example of a healthy habit. It sets you on the right track each day, helping to ensure you live your life to its fullest and don’t get caught up in the one aspect of your life that might be dominating the calendar that day.

Living with humble confidence provides the combination of forward momentum and steady guide rails necessary to plow forward toward your vision.

Your Catholic faith is a deeply rooted part of your approach to life, and I know living an integrated life is something you are constantly exploring and sharing on your blog and in your speaking. What tips would you have for the “common man,” those of us who are just struggling with work life balance?

Before you even try to integrate all aspects of your life, you have to be comfortable with who you are. Part of knowing who you are is embracing it. To integrate your life, you need to know what you’re integrating and confident of the priority you place on each aspect of your life. Spend a day reflecting on your vocation, your passions, your strengths and weaknesses, and the talents you’ve been given. Ask God to enlighten your mind and show you who He made you to be. This is the foundation of living the integrated life.

Once you have a firm grasp on who you are, you need to plan where you’re going. I recommend creating a life plan. A life plan looks a lot like a strategic plan for a business. How do you want to be remembered? What does success look like in all aspects of your life? Develop strategies for getting there and lay out a plan to ensure that you make it.

But this is just the beginning. At the end of the day, it’s all about execution. There are two techniques that I strongly recommend.

A morning routine is the most critical tactic of living the integrated life – and there are two staples of that routine that I can’t recommend highly enough. The first is dedicated prayer time that includes taking your entire day to the Lord. Ask him what the most important aspects of your upcoming day are and what you need to add and cut from your schedule.

The second piece of your morning routine builds on top of the team planning you’ve just done in prayer. Sit down with your priorities and determine what you’re going to do during the day. Too often people live by their calendars but don’t plan the extraneous things they need to get done. I strongly recommend the technique outlined in David Allen’s book Getting Things Done.

Secondly, I suggest taking the Integrated Life mindset to the nth degree. Find crazy ways to integrate different aspects of your life. I have taken children on business trips and answered conference calls from a baseball diamond. Force yourself to think out of the box and find very deliberate ways to integrate otherwise competing aspects of your life. You will find that the more you do it, the more benefit you will find and the easier it will become.

What’s your favorite way to spend time with your family? How do you connect with them when you are gone and busy so much with your professional life and your company?

There’s no doubt that my favorite family time is on the baseball diamond or soccer field. I absolutely love coaching, and even watching, my kids in sports. Teresa and I share this passion, so, it makes for a great family activity. Of course, all six of the kids aren’t athletes, and with them I try to find other activities that we can do together. We have great 4-square matches, for example.

Dealing with travel is a reality of business. We live in a period of time in which the global economy is a reality. I do my best to limit my travel to every other week, and, unless I’m going overseas, I try to keep each trip to three days and two nights. When I’m gone I use all of my time. I work non-stop on the plane and in the hotel. There are no in-flight movies for me. The more time I can spend getting ahead while on the road, the more time I’m able to spend with the family (or working with one of my favorite apostolates) when I get home.

What about your Catholic faith is the most critical to your living an integrated life? How does your Catholicism color the way you do business, for example, and how you make decisions about your life?

You can’t live an integrated life without your faith impacting all aspects of your life. I am Catholic. I am a businessman. I don’t run a Catholic business, but I am a Catholic in business. In fact, this is an essential part of the “who” in my integration plan. I have been convinced since my late teens that my calling was to “be in the world but not of the world.”

I think the Church’s social teaching has had the greatest impact on my business. The concept of the dignity of the worker is powerful and it has really been a foundation for how I approach all business endeavors. Both employees and the employer have a great responsibility and the brutal reality is that the Church’s teaching on work can not be summed up by our common language. It is both extremely socialist and extremely capitalist. It crosses the great divide.

And, because I’m a hopeless bookworm, tell us what you’re reading now. (No, it has nothing to do with the rest of the interview. It’s a purely “Sarah asking what Sarah wants to know” question.)

Next up on my list are Do the Work and Turning Pro, by Steven Pressfield. Those will be followed by The Little Book of Talent and Talent Code, by Daniel Coyle. The first set was given to my by Michael Hyatt. The second set was given to me by Joseph’s (my 11-year-old son) baseball coach. Funny how both are related to changing your mindset and putting in the work necessary to excel at what you do. Can you say “living the integrated life”?


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