You can’t have business growth without personal growth. That’s because both come from finding unity between you, your life and your business.
This article is the fifth of a series of seven. Here’s the model that this series of articles builds on:
Integrating Life with Business
I might have first heard the term ‘work-life balance‘ about 20 years ago, but it might have been more recently. It troubles me from two points:
- Why does work come first?
- How do you balance two tightly interwoven sets of processes?
You’ve guessed that I’m not a fan. I don’t think that you can have a balance between work and life. Those who know me well would whole-heartedly agree; I don’t have a balance between work and life. Much, probably too much recently, of my work takes place in the corner of my lounge at home. And, I’m probably working a little too hard at present, although a holiday beckons at the time of writing.
This is my point: work and life do not balance; they’re integrated. Besides which, work sits inside life.
Anglepoise Lamps Not Scales
Think of it this way. Work-life balance infers that work and life sit in opposing dishes of an old-fashioned set of scales. To get a correct balance, you need equal quantities in both dishes, or you associate more value with the contents of one or the other dish. I just don’t think it’s that simple. Work and life are more complicated than that.
A better metaphor is an anglepoise lamp. These lamps work by resolving tensions between springs on the lamp arms and friction in the joints (controlled by tightening bolts that compress the joints). You have opposing forces that are held in a dynamic equilibrium. You can move the lamp head up and down, and Newton’s Third Law does the rest (provided the bolts are tightened appropriately).
Resolving Tensions: Integrating Life with Work
In my world, integrating life with business is about resolving the tensions between different objectives at any given time during the day. Most commonly at present, it’s about the tension between finishing a piece of writing (like this article) and making time to take the dog for a walk (I need the exercise and so does my dog, Hercules). Now here’s the thing. When I walk the dog, I often think about what I’ve just written or am about to write. It’s not ‘either, or’; it’s ‘and.’ My life is integrated with my work.
For me, what it comes down to is knowing what your goals are in life and in work and plotting a course that enables you to achieve both. Often as not, achieving work goals allows you to meet life goals. Achieving life goals often encourages a revision of existing work goals or the establishment of new ones. That’s not balance. It’s integration.
My next article will be on leading not managing.