Balance is tricky stuff
Social media is everywhere and we are part of it, all the time. Not just when working, not just when playing – the lines have blurred.
The blur of work life and the rest of life is also changing. Slowly, subtly, work and life outside of work becoming more fluid. Handling what needs to be handled in our lives as we need to. Home life and work life being exchanged effortlessly, gently and without the stress of obligation to being at a specific place to conduct work, or a specific time of day.
It’s not a work-life balance we are striving for, as, in the end, it’s all life. What we really want is to be wholly integrated, adapting work and life so they fit more naturally, stresslessly, seamlessly.
Many of our ancestors were farmers, they led integrated lives where they tended the fields when needed and tended their families in kind. There was a natural rhythm to their lives based on seasons and planting, tilling, and harvests. From that natural rhythm, there is truth to the phrase "a time for every purpose under heaven".
We have not yet learned to create the same rhythm in the work we do now, since the dawn of automation, we’ve created very separate, distinct worlds, one where we are in work and when where we are not. This is not just separate but unnatural. In this construct, there is no way to flow in and out naturally, we instead create static, sometimes frustratingly and distinctly different worlds.
It is difficult to be at our best or to ensure room for creativity when we are tethered to a desk in an office for very specific times and demands. Particularly when other areas of life are also screaming for attention. In this world that we’ve created, everything suffers.
Granted, there are jobs that require specificity of time and place; doctors, nurses, wait staff, factory work. But for the mass of office workers producing all sorts of data, reports, and products, being asked to be innovative on demand is not how we are designed.
The trend is shifting, to work when and where fits best for you, but it’s only happening in small segments of business. There are still way too many companies expecting more from workers, with less staff than is reasonable, striving to deliver a bottom line acceptable to their investors without care or thought given to longevity of the business or its people.
I’ve watched people who care deeply about the business they are in, stressed to the point of breaking, getting sick, gaining weight, looking lost and helpless – essentially giving up – a learned behavior from years of making do with what is there. No longer caring about the quality of the product or about creating the “next" best thing.
It’s time for business to realize that without people who care, and are cared for, there is no business.
However, unless we create an environment where leadership is truly leading the way - not just leading to the current bottom line, but leading the way to the best possible future and looking for new ways of becoming instead of new ways of doing, we are doomed to work becoming more of a sweat shop mentality and workers become more unhealthy.
It starts with each one of us. Leaders leading with compassion, truly caring about each other, not just the work but the fully complete lives - both in and out of work, that we all have. Compartmentalizing our lives just leads to more stress. Getting there will require a shift in mindset, from what’s best for the bottom line to what’s best for the growth of each one of us and our world. From looking at employees as human “resources” to seeing them as what they are - human “beings”. We are worth it, don’t you think?