Life, Work, and Discovering Your Why: Finding Balance in a Unstable World
In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years. – Abraham Lincoln
Architect Frank Lloyd Wright once told of an incident that may have seemed insignificant at the time, but had a profound influence on the rest of his life. The winter he was 9, he went walking across a snow-covered field with his reserved, no-nonsense uncle. As the two of them reached the far end of the field, his uncle stopped him. He pointed out his own tracks in the snow, straight and true as an arrow’s flight, and then young Frank’s tracks meandering all over the field.
“Notice how your tracks wander aimlessly from the fence to the cattle to the woods and back again,” his uncle said. “And see how my tracks aim directly to my goal. There is an important lesson in that.”
Years later the world-famous architect liked to tell how this experience had greatly contributed to his philosophy in life. “I determined right then,” he’d say with a twinkle in his eye, “not to miss most things in life, as my uncle had.”
Many people often miss the most important things in life because they fail at this essential skill as a leader- work/life balance. It’s a struggle for many leaders. Could it be yours?
In research conducted by EY (http://bit.ly/1QjTJZ8) it was reported that, “33% of full-time employees globally say it has gotten more difficult to manage work/family in the last five years. The most common reasons cited 49% “my salary has not increased much, but my expenses have” and 48% “my responsibilities at work have increased.” Sound familiar?
Having a good work/life balance is essential to your success. As a leader you are not immune from the challenge. In fact, it may be more problematic for you. So what is the solution? Here are a few tips to help you recapture some of that much needed balance.
Begin with your priorities
Almost every article I read on work/life balance begins with work. It goes without saying that work is important. But how would things be different for you if you looked at it from the viewpoint of a life/work balance? If the priorities of your life are not in order then how can work? Get life’s priorities in order first then you can take care of the rest.
Discover your ‘why’
I’m a firm believer that you should do what you love and love what you do. When you do, it’s not work but your passion. Understanding your ‘why’ is essential to you as a leader. John Maxwell framed it this way, “People who know their why can keep their heads while everything around them is in turmoil. And that draws others to them.” Life and work makes sense when you know why you are here.
Get flexible with schedules
Fortunately, many companies are seeing the benefit of flexible work schedules, which allows for greater productivity, greater teamwork, and happier employees, etc. (http://huff.to/1SxzdV1). Creating a work/life balance does not have to be an either/or proposition where one is good and the other is not. Smart leaders can create a culture where both can thrive.
Define your borders
As a leader many things compete for your time and attention. If not careful you can get caught up in solving problems that are not yours to solve, involved in details that easily can be handled by someone else, and otherwise distracted from having the work/life balance you desire. This is an area in which you will need to stand firm. Define your borders and stick to it.
Get real about relationships
People are your greatest appreciable asset. Building strong relationships is the key to your growth as a leader and to the success of your organization. But surrounding yourself with the right people is more important than surrounding yourself with a lot of people. So here are some questions you need to answer: Are those closest to you adding value or subtracting? Do those closest to you share your vision and values and see the big picture or are they in it for themselves? Relationships are key to your work/life balance. If you are surrounded by the wrong people then it’s time to prune.
Ella Wheeler said, “Laugh, and the world laughs with you; weep, and you weep alone”. Creating a good work/life balance can be just one laugh away. It’s important to take your work seriously, but not yourself. Laugh. Lighten up. Learn to take things in stride. Don’t be wound up so tight that you can’t enjoy a light moment now and then. Your work/life balance begins with these simple steps. Are you ready for some balance in your life?
Doug Dickerson is an internationally recognized leadership speaker, columnist, and author. A Lowcountry resident, Doug is available to speak for your civic, business, or church group. TO learn more visit DougDickerson.WordPress.com.