The conversation around “work-life balance” is very interesting.
According to Wikipedia “work-life balance” was first used as an expression
…in the late 1970s to describe the balance between an individuals work and personal life. In the United States, this phrase was first used in 1986.
Over the past twenty-five years, there has been a substantial increase in work which is felt to be due, in part, by information technology and by an intense, competitive work environment. Long-term loyalty and a “sense of corporate community” have been eroded by a performance culture that expects more and more from their employees yet offers little security in return.
One can say that Work–life balance is the proper prioritizing between “work” (career and ambition) on one hand and “life” (pleasure, leisure, family and spiritual development) on the other.
This is an introductory post. My intent is to offer a different model as we think about how we “do life”. (Perhaps you’ll help me with your comments?)
How well does life compartmentalization work…really?
One of my clients is a decade into a successful career, has C-level responsibilities and a beautiful family. His company sees even greater leadership potential and that’s why I’m coaching him.
Mike’s* technical skills are superior; his development opportunity resides in what I call “core leadership skills” i.e. people skills.
One of my coaching exercise helps leaders evaluate their Support System. To navigate life’s transitions and transformation we all must have the help and encouragement of others. As Mike completed the reflective exercise he began to wrestle with this concept of “balance”.
What does balance have to do with life?
As I listened and asked questions, he sketched something like this in his journal:
How realistic is this as a model for life?
How does a cross beam, supported in the center with two pans of equal weight suspended on each end realistically represent life? “Work-life balance”?
Think about it; what does it take to obtain “stability” with this instrument? Right, an even distribution of weight…yes, balance. However, I find life more complex than what two pans, suspended on a balance beam can represent?
When is work not a part of life and life not a part of work?
A different word came to my mind as I listened to Mike’s story.
Allow me introduce this other concept with an entertaining 2 minute video.
[Link listen and observe COMMITTED as they perform Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” on NBC’s “The Sing-Off”.]
What did you hear and see?
Here’s what I hear: harmony.
According to www.i.word.com/dictionary harmony is defined as
:the combination of simultaneous musical notes in a chord
:pleasing or congruent arrangement of parts
Whether this music style appeals to you or not, did you hear the harmony?
There is a combination of six simultaneous voices in a pleasing arrangement. Harmony. Wow!
And, here’s what I see: harmony.
You may want to watch the video again. Did you notice how the melody flowed from person to person in a congruent arrangement?
The harmony came out of an agreed arrangement of the parts.
The agreed arrangement of the parts created beautiful, awesome, powerful music.
What does “Life Harmony” sound like…look like?
This is where it gets even more exciting!
Harmony is defined by www.i.word.com/dictionary
:an interweaving of different accounts into a single narrative
Seriously, how do you divide life into two parts…work life / personal life?
How about “Life Harmony”?
Life Harmony is blending the four parts of the story: self, family, community, and work.
Think about it, The Journey begins when we show up as an individual; the new member of a family; finding our place in community; where we learn to make our contribution to society through meaningful work. That’s the story.
Every day life is the challenge to bring harmony to the story. To interweave all the different parts into a single, pleasing, congruent narrative.
The Story is the Story.
One of my favorite coaching principles is around “the Story”, summed up as:
Everyone has a Story
Every day we add to our Story
Today, you will have influence on someone’s Story
Life Harmony is the interweaving of different accounts into a single narrative.
If you have 2 minutes, listen to COMMITTED sing “Let’s Stay Together” again?
Imagine your life lived with such harmony and free flow between the many parts.
How many parts are in your narrative?
We have many roles in life.
Just to illustrate: I’m a man, a son, and brother; husband, dad, and grandpa; an executive coach, business owner, speaker, equipper, and author; friend, neighbor, resident of Tulsa, and follower of Jesus Christ…you get the point.
How many roles do you have in life?
My intent is to offer a different model as we think about how we “do life”; something other than “Work-Life Balance”. What if we think in terms of Life Harmony?
What if we make music?
Let’s interweave person hood, family life, community, and work into a single narrative? We could call it “The Story”. What would the story sound like?
What do you think? Please enter the conversation with your comment below.
Who can you forward this exploration to?
*Not his real name