The Ever Elusive Search for Work-Life Balance

For many of us, the holy grail of success is achieving "Work-Life- Balance." It is a topic of frequent discussion in my coaching sessions and is often first on the list when we start working together. And yet, despite all the discussions, books, and articles, many of us feel this "balance" eludes us. Perhaps, it is because we see it as an either/or - choosing between work and life to achieve balance? What if, instead, we saw it, as James Michener did, becoming masters in the art of living. "Masters in the art of living make little distinctionbetween their work and their play, theirlabor and their leisure, their mind and theirbody, their information, and theirrecreation, their love, and their religion.They hardly know which is which.They simply pursue their vision of excellence atwhatever they do, leaving others todecide whether they are working or playing.To them, they are always doing both." ...
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The Elephant In the Room

The other day, I asked for feedback from a team I was working with about the program's value. One of the members came up to me afterward and said, "please don't take this personally," and gave me some additional feedback. My response was," the elephant is in the room whether we talk about him or not. For me, I would prefer to know what you are thinking and feeling so that I can modify the program to give you results that meet your needs." Yes, the elephant is in the room whether we talk about him or not. There he is, clomping around, banging into things. And yet, we often refuse to talk about him. Why is that? Here are the reasons I hear: I don't want confrontationI don't want to hurt anyone's feelingsWe can't do anything about it anyway My experience is that our reluctance to confront causes the elephant to cause more damage than if we just talked about him and got...
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What Are You Willing To Give Up?

What Are You Willing To Give Up?

I frequently ask my clients, What are you willing to give up to get what you want?  One of my favorite marketing books, admittedly an old one, is Ries and Trout's 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing. For me, many of these 22 laws are relevant to life as well as marketing. Law #13, The Law of Sacrifice, resonates for me for making life choices: You have to give up something to get something. What I notice in my conversations is those who are willing to let go of something move forward. They invent the new products, hire the person who will free them up to do what only they can do, take the next job or start the next business. These people are willing to give up something to get what they want. The 'give up' may be something we believe. It may be fear (of failing, being wrong), or simply comfort with what we have or what we know. The 'give up' may be tangible, dollars...
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Go Ahead, Drop Some Balls

A friend of mine recently received a significant promotion. While he is excited about his promotion, he is searching for his replacement and, for now, is doing both jobs. When I asked him how it was going, he responded, "just trying to get it all done, without dropping any balls." This conversation reminded me of one I had with one of my clients. She was lamenting the challenges one of her executives has with burnout. In this case, the CEO said, "I wish he would learn to drop some balls; his effort to get everything done is what is causing his burnout!" The' to-do list' can seem endless for those who want to dot every I and cross every T (I admit I am one of them). What I heard this wise CEO saying was, "go ahead, drop some balls," just choose the ones you are going to drop. What if, instead of starting each day with a list of what we are going to do, we...
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Perception ≠ Reality

We often hear the phrase perception is reality. Philosophers tell us that we cannot perceive reality directly; perception is all we have. “If a tree falls in the woods…..” As leaders, we transfer this rule into behaviors, i.e., how we perceive a product becomes what it is. How we perceive a person or a company’s reputation is who they become for us. And, at work, how our peers, subordinates, and bosses perceive us becomes their reality and drives their expectations of us.  And yet, perception is often far from reality. Even in the physical world, if we don’t have enough information, reality can be variable, e.g., without knowledge of time, darkness can be perceived as either night or a storm. I was reminded of this fact recently when I attended a gathering with other coaches. Coaches as a group tend to pay attention to the subtleties; after all, we are trained to do so. Therefore, one would think that this would translate to “knowing” that what we perceive may...
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Words Matter

We live in a diverse world, and at the same time, it seems we have become increasingly intolerant. The more you look for signs of both, the more you will find it. Some say we need to stop looking so hard; I say we need to start looking harder. Diversity is part of my core; I work hard to create diversity in my life. I find people who are different from me interesting. I learn more from people who see the world differently than I do from those who see it the same. Diversity of thought is the hardest. And, groups that achieve it consistently outperform. When everyone is thinking and saying something different, the member has a richer experience and a richer opportunity to make their own decisions. So what does this have to do with words? We have a choice. We can live our lives surrounded by people who are exactly like us, listen to news that supports our way...
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Labor Day in a Pandemic – Year 2

When the first nationally recognized Labor Day was celebrated in 1894, the day consisted of a street parade sending up a message of "the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations" (in the words of the AFL).  We have come a long way since then. Today, especially in this war for talent, most employers focus on offering opportunities and benefits to attract and retain talent. Yet, the disruption from the pandemic continues. Help wanted signs everywhere, a labor shortage stretching from unskilled workers to high-level professionals and executives.  Pundits of all types are offering commentary on this topic. Some say it's a permanent shift only to be resolved by wage and price inflation. Others say we have a move away from work and that automation will resolve the issue.   The Economist recently published a report entitled Will the Rich World's Worker Deficit Last?  The authors estimate the current employment deficit to be 3% below the pre-pandemic level. While acknowledging demand shortages, their research...
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How Do You Find Serenity?

Sometimes the demands of one part of our life, work or family, consume us. Sometimes because of a crisis, sometimes because of a spike in workload or children's sports or…, sometimes just because we become depleted. These days, mobile devices link us 24/7 to the office, our bosses, employees, and coworkers. We are, as I heard it said recently, living in time poverty. Now more than ever, it may be necessary to pause, regroup, and allow ourselves to do something counterintuitive; listen to music, go sailing, jogging, practice yoga, make pottery, or go for a walk. Why counterintuitive? Because our responsible self says, stay with it, do the work, finish the project, take care of the sick loved one, etc. We tell ourselves it's selfish to do something for ourselves "at a time like this." If we think of our lives as a three-legged stool….when one leg is gone, it won't balance and falls over. We can't just go back and forth between the...
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