Work/life balance has run its course…
Over the past two decades, there have been a plethora of work/life policies and programs designed to ensure men and women lead more productive lives (Greenhaus, 2000). The result? People are feeling even more stressed about not achieving, never mind maintaining, balance in their lives. When the goal is work/life balance, people are being forced to play a zero sum game (Friedman, 2014).
There is an underlying assumption that work/life balance is even achievable. Using the scale as a metaphor, work and life are always competing to create equilibrium, at the expense of each other. The fundamental premise presumes conflict, not balance. Another assumption and complaint is that’s there is never enough time…
Add the ever-increasing complexity of the 21st century including social change, environmental degradation, technological shifts that ensure 24/7 connectivity, and increased complexity in organizations and markets, which further causes stress and fragments our lives, different questions need to asked.
How do I spend my time? How congruent is my life? What does it mean to be whole?
Friedman (2014) suggests it’s not about the lack of time; rather it’s about psychological interference. When you increase your ability to focus on what matter when it matters, you minimize the conflicts among work, home, community and self. Further, managing the boundaries between the different areas of your life, including the physical boundaries of time and space, as well as the psychological boundaries of focus and intention, integrating them more congruently facilitates a more wholistic life!
Leading the life you want begins with authentically taking a hard look at your core values and determining the importance and how much time and energy you actually spend with respect to the four domains of your life: work, family, community and self. How important is your self and how much time and energy do you actually invest? Are you the same person in all your spheres? How integrated and in harmony are your domains?
Respecting the whole person and living a whole life requires bridging the domains in a way that makes sense and has coherence (Friedman, 2014, p. 73). Becoming conscious where there is dis-ease and making simple action steps to implement experiments, while creatively serving all your important stakeholders can often result in meaningful change in all domains (Friedman, 2014).
Leadership Coaching Tip: Remember, work/life balance is a zero sum game. Be authentic, whole, and innovative! Uncover your values and visions, share them with your stakeholders, and gain their support to implement experiments, to live a more meaningful life that is consciously on purpose!
Friedman, S. D. (2014). Total leadership: Be a better leader, have a richer life. Boston, MA: Harvard Business Publishing.
About the Author
Natasha Mantler is a leadership coach and facilitator, informed by her Undergraduate degree in Psychology from the University of Guelph, Masters in Business Administration from the University of Victoria, and executive coaching degree from Royal Roads University. Currently, she is working toward completing her Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership and Transformation at Saybrook University, dividing her time between Rohnert Park, California and Toronto, Canada with her husband and partner, Eric Reynolds.