What is work life balance?  Isn’t there only life?

Photo by Jude Beck on Unsplash

The whole concept of work life balance never made sense to me.  There is only life.  It takes focus to balance all aspects of life while being present in whatever you are doing.  The simple truth is that humans do not multi-task, at least not well.  In my experience, trying to do three things at once means you will not be 100% effective in any of them.  If you need to work … work with focus.  If you need to be a parent … parent with presence.

Mindfulness helps us be present in whatever we are doing.  

With Spring Break upon us, finding balance during vacation can be a challenge for leaders.  The fact that many people work throughout their vacation makes me a bit sad.  In my role as COO I have to be available if significant issues arise.  I get that.  But it doesn’t mean that I relentlessly clear my inbox while trying to hang out with my family.

Being present with your vacation means being somewhat vulnerable as a leader.  You have to accept that things can continue without you.  That actually demonstrates the strength of your team.

A mindful vacation begins with trip preparation.  This helps visualize that that vacation itinerary is actually quite busy and you need your colleagues to help cover things at work.  It’s also easier to find the right time to schedule that one (apparently) unavoidable work call without detracting from the experience of others.  The key is to set the bar high for interruptions and only engage with things that are truly urgent.  

Sometimes life happens.  Last week I was on a train trip with my kids when a significant work issue arose and the team reached out.  Once I provided some feedback, it was clear that the team could take it from there.  There was nothing more I could do at that moment.

To overcome my frustration with the issue, I settled back into my vacation by being present with the train ride.  I brought attention to the smooth movement of the coach on the rails.  I focused on the squeak of the wheels and the sound of the whistle.  I directed awareness to the breath.  I was able to find stillness in about 5 minutes, which allowed me to mindfully lose to my daughter at Crazy 8’s … again!

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