There are a plethora of blogs, podcasts and books in the world today expounding the value of obtaining a work/life balance. Often these imply that work is bad or in someway inferior to life and therefore we need to strike a balance.
What I have observed is that this increases the already widening gap of our two selves: our work self and our personal self. It is no wonder so many people dread Monday mornings when they have to leave the best of who they are at home!
Alternatively, I think we need to understand our priorities at any given time and in any given situation. In order to bring our whole person to work with us each day, we need to see work as part of our life — not separate from it. I am not advocating being available to 24/7 to answer emails and calls. Far from it. But we can decide what is most important right now. If your son has a recital Thursday night or your daughter is playing in an important soccer match Tuesday afternoon and you have deemed both of these events of high importance — then make them your priority at that time and put away your phone!
If you are thick in negotiations for a new merger or you have an ad campaign deadline — then those are your priorities. On rare occasion you may find choosing the greater priority a challenge. A common practice of many great leaders (Warren Buffett and Steven Covey among them) is the 10-10-10 rule. Before deciding, ask yourself these three questions:
1. How will I feel about this decision in 10 minutes?
2. How will I feel about this decision in 10 months?
3. How will I feel about this decision in 10 years?
I would argue that question number three has the highest value. Long-term benefits trump short term gains. Which choice will you feel best about 10 years from now? Work and life should not be enemies where one is always looking to best the other. If we view our work as part of who we are and bring our humanity to the table each and every moment we will feel more fulfilled and more whole.
Seth Godin in his book "Linchpin" was the first to open my eyes and mind to this concept. He says, “Transferring your passion to your job is far easier than finding a job that happens to match your passion.” This can be more challenging early in our careers when we have fewer options due to lack of experience or skill and “take what we can get” because we need to pay the bills. But his words are equally valid and powerful at all stages of our life. There will always be parts of our jobs we enjoy less than others, but isn’t that true of the rest of our lives as well? I know I don’t relish washing dishes or pulling weeds — but complaining makes those tasks worse not better.
Bring YOU, your humanity, to work. Not only will you find more value, but you will provide more value to your organization. Find passion in the little things you do at work, with your family, with your friends. Be intentional about bringing the best of yourself to all parts of your life. When you need to recharge, truly disconnect and spend time with your own thoughts. Find your work/life flow. Monday is just another day and has as much opportunity as any other day of the week — it’s all perspective. Life doesn’t have to end for work to begin.
Cheri Dudek-Kuhn is a Professional EOS Implementer and CEO for Orchard Corset. Read her leadership blogs at cheridudek.com/category/latest-news.