Work-Life Balance Is A Fantasy

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Find your ‘work-life balance’”.  We’ve heard it all our lives.  And everyone has suggestions on how to accomplish this balance.  The focus has always been on finding a way to be successful at work while still finding the time to live your life outside of work.

It’s time to be enlightened, folks.  There is no such thing as a work-life balance.  It doesn’t exist.  And as you read further, I hope you understand why I make such a bold statement that may have never been made before.

I heard a character in a movie ask another character “Where do you live?”  The second character replied “Everywhere!”  This comical retort got me thinking this statement was more true than funny.  Many of us, if asked this question, would give a street name, a city, a country, because we would be thinking about where we spend our lives in a house.  But I challenge each of you today to think differently.

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The reason I say work-life balance is a fantasy, is that the two are not mutually exclusive.  I read a very interesting story once called “The Dash”.  And it spoke of how that, at the end of our lives, there is a date of birth and a date of death with a “ – “ (dash) in the middle.  What you do with your ‘dash’ is what makes the difference.  That simple dash is your life and everything you do during that dash defines ‘life’.

If you are at work, you are still living your life.  If you are at home, you are living your life.  If you are out with friends or family, you are living your life.  Everywhere you turn, you are living your life.  Therefore, instead of focusing on a ‘work-life balance’, focus on a “Life Balance” where you focus on every aspect of your life no matter where you are.  Give 110% in each and every one of those aspects.  Your family and friends should remember you as someone who is dedicated, thoughtful, kind, and loving.  Those who work with you should remember you as someone who is dedicated, goal-oriented, a team player, resilient, focused, hard-working, tenacious, and unwilling to give up.

If you focus on being the best everywhere you go, paying attention to the urgent and important needs, showing kindness to others, prioritizing each and every aspect of your life, you will find that you no longer have to worry about ‘balancing work and life’, because your life will be all that you have, and work, friends, family, and all others will be things that together MAKE your LIFE.

One of my favorite writers, Zig Ziglar stated once that “No one ever said on their deathbed ‘I wish I had worked more’”.  The focus of your life should never be whether you should work more or less.  It should be whether you are giving quality and priority to the things in your LIFE that matter the most, in the right order.

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When this life is over, all that will be left is the memory of you.

The question you have to ask yourself today is how do you want to be remembered.  And what things can you do today to ensure you meet those goals in your LIFE?

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Just Start It!!

In 1988, Nike launched an ad campaign which would become a common phrase used by the world for many years, even still today.  The slogan was “Just Do It!“.  Likely one of the most famous slogans by any company, everyone in the world would think of them when this statement was made.

Today, I want to discuss a similar but different term….”Just Start It!“.

I realized this while listening to someone at work talk about how we need to get a strategy in place, to build out our plan, and what steps we would take to get from point A to point B and to the final outcome.  And someone made the statement, “Just get started – we’re wasting time”.

Then it hit me.  It’s been said many times that Good is the Enemy of Great.  We put off things today because we feel we don’t have the time to do it perfect.  We delay for days, weeks, months, maybe even years,  beginning something that we could simply just start now.

From a personal standpoint, I’m guilty as well.  I have known for years that I wanted to begin writing, coaching, mentoring, and teaching others about leadership, management, setting personal goals, and personal & career growth.  But I kept taking notes, writing in a journal all the things I could eventually someday put into a book.  Everyone that knows me knew that I continuously stated “I will write a book someday”.  However, nothing was ever produced other than incomplete goals and dreams.  But I have now been interviewed and published in a magazine, I am going to be a speaker at a Testing Conference in October, and I have started a blog, right here on WordPress, which I hope will continue to move me to the goals I have set for myself.

What I have found from a personal standpoint, is that it’s so easy to procrastinate.  I read a quote somewhere once that said “It’s amazing how much you can accomplish when you are NOT working on what you supposed to be doing”.  This is so true.  Many of us will complete dozens of things unrelated to the truly important work that needs to be in progress.  Stephen Covey notes in “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” that you have to focus on working on what is IMPORTANT and less on what is URGENT.  Obviously, we have to get the URGENT + IMPORTANT work out of the way, but many times we focus on the things that are either URGENT + NOT IMPORTANT or NOT URGENT + NOT IMPORTANT and we fail to ever move to the true goals and aspirations for our lives.

My challenge to you, reader, is to get started TODAY.  Most everyone has something they have wanted to accomplish.  Something they feel is important for their lives, their career, their future.  But it sits on the shelf and we think about it often but never take action.  Stop waiting for that perfect opportunity to align, and get started on the little things that can move you step by step toward your ultimate goal.  It’s been said “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step”.  Begin taking those steps.

With that said, I’m a realist and I’m also a logical thinker.  “Just Start It” doesn’t apply to every single thing in the world.  For instance, if your goal is to be an airplane pilot, you obviously would not just jump on a plane, take the cockpit, and start flying.  It would be disastrous.  It would require you to take the training, learn the process, and then begin flying a plane.  But even in this example, the first steps – taking the courses, getting instruction, learning the controls, educating yourself on aeronautics, is a simple way you can “Just Start It”.

I have applied this theory in my work.  I have, more often than not, put off things which I felt I needed more time to perfect and prepare, and I have found myself cramming to get everything done with much less time.  WIth this new theory, I see such progress in the way I deliver, and the way I start with simple steps, modify, update, perfect, and reapply, and it is amazing how much more productive I have found myself now.

So get out there – take your first steps – people will notice.  It’s better to show that you have work in progress and that you have something to show things are moving, than it is to say “I’m working on the plan”, or “I have it all in my head – just need to put it on paper”, or “I need to meet with the team and come up with our approach”, or “I’m waiting on person-X to get back to me before I start”.

Just Start It!  The worst that could happen is that you have to stop and restart it.  But I challenge you to try this theory and see how it works for you!

Seek First to Remember, Then to Never Be Forgotten

Early in my career, I became obsessed with personal growth and building my career beyond the limits. I was determined to have no regrets in retirement, never to look back across my legacy, and feel that I had failed to accomplish every goal and objective in my life.

I began looking for that perfect book, that perfect mentor, something to help guide me along the way, coach me to be better each day, to stretch beyond my limits and be different from all those around me. What i found was “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey. What I didn’t realize was the tremendous power of the teaching of this great leader. Little did I realize the impact this would make on my life, my career growth, and how I not only set my goals and objectives, but also how that I coached and mentored those who worked with me to grow in their own careers and personal development.

Today I was saddened to hear that we lost Mr. Covey at the age of 79. He left us with not only this wonderful book which sold over 20 million copies in 30 countries, but many other books on leadership and management principles. While his book gave step by step details on how to live and practice the seven habits, simply reading them can give you insight to the simple steps to personal development. I want to share those 7 habits below for the readers:

Independence or Self-Mastery

  • 1. Be Proactive
  • 2. Begin with the End in Mind
  • 3. Put First Things First

Interdependence

  • 4. Think Win Win
  • 5. Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood
  • 6. Synergize

Self Renewal

  • 7. Sharpen the Saw

Throughout my career, I have quoted this great man to peers, managers, subordinates and friends. I have read the Seven Habits more times than I can count. And every time I do, I learn something new each time. Some of the most memorable quotes are listed below:

  • “Effective leadership is putting first things first. Effective management is discipline, carrying it out”
  • “Live out your imagination, not your history”
  • “Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall”
  • “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities”
  • “Most of us spend too much time on what is URGENT and not enough time on what is IMPORTANT”
  • “The way we see the problem is the problem”
  • “Strength lies in DIFFERENCES not in SIMILARITIES”
  • “…to learn and not to do is really not to learn. To know and not to do is really not to know”
  • “When the trust account is high, communication is easy, instant, and effective”
  • “Two people can see the same thing, disagree, and yet both be right. It’s not logical, it’s psychological”
  • “Happiness, like unhappiness, is a proactive choice”
  • “People can’t live with change if there’s not a changeless core inside them”

I owe the motivation to become a writer, a motivational leader, a mentor, a coach, and someone that others looked to for support to this great leader, Mr. Covey. His teachings and guidance helped shape so many aspects of my career, personal growth, and leadership principles.

I urge you, readers, to read the works of this great author and leader. While he has left us, one thing he always said in his teachings was that his desire was “..To Live, To Love, and to Leave a Legacy”.

Stephen, you have left a legacy. You will be missed.

DWYSYWD

Back in 1994, I worked in tech support for year. What an enlightening time. You realize something very early in a tech support role – and that is there are people who know exactly what they are doing, and just need some help, and there are people who have no idea whats going on technically and need a friend to help them resolve their problem.

Our team used a term to describe those who had no clue technically — PICNIC. Which stood for “Problem In Chair, Not In Computer”. It was always comical when someone from the team would say “we have a picnic here….”

Today, I want to discuss a new acronym. One that I recently learned and has changed the way I work from day to day. This term is DWYSYWD (“Do What You Said You Would Do”).

Now I’ve read hundreds of leadership books, motivational materials, time management books, and listened to dozens and dozens of self help, management, and leadership audios. I’ve subscribed to everything that Stephen Covey and John C. Maxwell writes. I especially liked a book by Jeffrey Fox, entitled “How to Become CEO”. What an awesome book that is a quick read, and if you have not read it yet, i encourage you to do so.

But let’s talk about DWYSYWD. How many times in a given day do you make a committment to someone casually, and both of you know that this will never happen? How many times have you said “I’ll look into this today and get you an answer on Friday”, or “you have my word, I’ll give you a call on Wednesday and we’ll work this out”. I’m sure each of you have done this. And I would also be willing to bet that you had every intention to meet that committment.

The problem is that we make so many unwritten commitments every day, that we simply forget some of them. And then we find ourselves on committment Friday standing in front of the person we have made the committment to hearing them ask “so have you got something for me?” and you slap your face and say “oh my gosh! I knew I should have written this down”.

I have one simple suggestion – and I hope that it changes your life like it has mine. Write it down. Write down the committment you have made, the moment you have made it, who you made the committment to, the date you made the committment, and the date you committed to deliver. Then monitor and track this list to ensure you complete the task on time. You may be saying “that works well for my big commitments”, but I challenge this by saying that you should do it for everything. Why keep these commitments in your head. Each of us have too many things going on day after day to retain any of our commitments in our minds.

While this simple process will give you personal freedom and control, the effects of this disciplined approach will reach far beyond your own personal benefit.

Once people see that you are someone who always meets a committment, someone who never forgets a promise, they will gain astounding respect for you and will see you as someone they can count on always to deliver. You will also find that they will feel obligated to reciprocate the same level of committment and dedication to you.

If you are a manager or responsible for people’s careers, you will find that this is a great way to gain respect and support from your team and peers. When you consistently deliver on your commitments, they will feel empowered to meet their commitments to you as well.

You may be saying “I have kept a list for years, I have managed my ‘to-do’ lists always”. This is NOT the same. While keeping a list is a great discipline, you never have full control until you document if this is a committment to someone, and a planned delivery date for that committment. I can tell you from experience, that I too kept a list for dozens of years. I always work from one. But until just recently, I didn’t always keep the person expecting me to deliver or the committment date, and I have seen this new discipline make me extremely focused on delivering and building the trust of those around me.

I solicit your inputs on processes that you have used in your personal lives to manage your commitments as well, and I especially solicit your feedback and replies for anyone who tries this and finds it helpful!!

My First Blog

There are times in our lives when we look back and realize those were the defining moments; those special, memorable, and life-changing events that mould and shape the future.

I feel today is one of those moments. Early on in life I realized a passion to lead others, encourage growth, mentor, coach, advise, and most importantly experience growth and enlightenment for my own self in the process.

My ambition in life is to write books on leadership, self-improvement, growth, and to become a speaker to others who seek support and growth in their own lives.

My goal for this blog is to reach others who are willing to work with me to achieve these goals as well as touch others who are wanting to learn and growpersonally and professionally.

Please see my “About” page for other connections at social networks.

Lets start this journey together now!!