Although companies now claim to honor the work/life balance, in reality, something’s got to give. Or has it? In a book published this month, Professor Stew Friedman says that you don’t have to forsake part of your life to be successful in another part.
In “Leading the Life You Want: Skills for Integrating Work and Life” Friedman says that people who have an impact are the ones who embrace other areas of their life rather than ignoring them.
Work / Life Balance
Friedman argues that the term work/life balance implies that we can – or we should be able to – balance our lives between the personal and the professional. That implication is wrong and very segmented. It assumes that we have a finite amount of time, energy and attention which may only be divided in minimal ways. He prefers “work / life integration” and says it’s much more achievable.
The Four-Way Win
The book explores how the most successful people have worked out how to blend work and life in ways that strengthen each other. You need to choose what matters to you – and who matters to you. You have to be continually monitoring this blend to ensure it is still enhancing all the areas of your life.
Friedman call this the “Four Way Win” because it is benefitting
- Your work
- Your family
- Your community
- Your health – broken down into mind, body and spirit
How the Top people do it
In the book, Friedman tells the stories of people such as Michelle Obama, Bruce Springsteen and Sheryl Sandberg among others. He shows how the choices they make allow them to do well in all areas. Friedman himself used his four way win when he was going to DJ on Sirius XM radio to promote that Springsteen was being included in the book. Friedman got his son to help him compile the playlist as a way of connecting with him while still working.
The steps to integrating work and life
- Figure out what matters to you. At this point, don’t listen to what other people tell you that you should be doing.
- Find out what the people close to you really want or expect from you. For instance, you might assume that your spouse hates that you’re never home for dinner but what they truly want is to spend quality time with you on weekends.
Experiment until you integrate
If what you’re doing now isn’t working then you’ll need to change it. That will only happen by trying something new and seeing if it’s a fit. It’s also important how you present the idea. For instance, if you think you could achieve the four way win by working from home one day each week then you would need to negotiate. If you tell your boss that you’re never going to work Fridays because you have to watch a soccer game they won’t be best impressed.
However, if you make the suggestion and offer to trial it for a few weeks, you might be pleasantly surprised.
Friedman stressed that in all areas of trying to achieve the four way win, you’re not saying “It’s me against you”. You’re suggesting “Let’s try and find what works for us”.
It’s certainly worth a try.