Redefining Work-Life Balance

The Changing Nature of Work

How we work is changing. Technology is ushering in new possibilities. New generations enter the workforce with different expectations. With all the changes in play, there are some things that stay the same: the desire for fulfillment and purpose, the need to balance the professional with the personal.

Mason Donovan tackles these challenges in his new book, The Golden Apple: Redefining Work-Life Balance for a Diverse Workforce. Mason is managing partner at The Dagoba Group, a New England-based diversity and inclusion consultancy. I had the opportunity to ask him about the changing nature of work, including generational changes, balance, mindfulness, and inclusion efforts.

 

Success Tip: Balance improves your relationships, satisfaction and productivity.

 

Achieve Greater Satisfaction with Balance

Is work-life balance possible? Why is it so important?

Work-life balance is possible.  There are a lot of gurus out there that say it is not in order to capture your attention in this crowded field.  Emphasis is on the word balance.  If you ever walked on a high beam or anything else in which you needed to physically balance yourself, you most likely fell off a few times.  Your balance will fall off to one side or the other.  It is important that you anticipate for these moments of imbalance, so you have a plan to get up.

Achieving balance will make you more productive in and out of the workplace.  It will enrich your relationships and allow you to achieve greater satisfaction in life.

 

“Alignment of purpose allows for the elimination of distractions.” -Mason Donovan

 

How is finding your purpose related to achieving balance?

In the book, I tell the story of executives on an interpersonal retreat climbing a mountain.  Their primary purpose was to reach the summit without talking about business.  The objective was for them to get to know each other better personally and share an accomplishment.  Without spoiling the story, their original goal is interrupted because they lost their purpose.

In order to know where you are going in life, it is important to understand why you are going there.  Work-life balance is no exception.  Only a handful of people actually stop and reflect on why they get up every day to spend the majority of their waking life in an organization.  When that somewhat simple-but-necessary reflection does not take place, you will default to acquiring things and making money, which almost inevitably leads to the golden handcuffs phenomenon.  You work more because you have to make more money.  You make more money so you can acquire things that require you to work more.

There has been a societal shift in why individuals engage in work.  Part of that shift is due to generational changes, while for others it was their awakening due to the Great Recession.  Aligning your personal purpose in life with your work and organizational purpose will help you eliminate all of the noise that does not fit that purpose.  Balance comes from awareness.  In The Golden Apple, I provide simple exercises to not only develop, but also align your purpose at each level.

 

“Work is not a four-letter word.” -Mason Donovan

 

Understand Generational Change

What are you finding in terms of generational changes? What are the new generations demanding at work? What’s the best way for current leaders to respond?

It is important to note that we are all unique individuals but are influenced by our shared group memberships such as our generation.  Clumping everyone together and solely defining them by generational attitudes can overgeneralize any particular person.  It is helpful to understand the influence of generational membership, which will give you a starting point when discovering their individuality.The Golden Apple

Each generational cohort has a defining moment in the shaping of their shared psyche.  When it comes to employment, for Generation X it was the broken promise of the organizational loyalty which fostered the cradle to grave jobs their parents subscribed to.  Millennials were highly influenced by the Great Recession which ushered in massive layoffs, foreclosures and lowered career expectations.  These defining moments create a collective influence on how cohorts view the work-life equation.

PwC’s NextGen study uncovered a generational shift when it came to work and personal engagement for their Millennial population.  Uncovering this shift was important to them since by the year 2020, they expect that fully 80% of their employees will be Millennials.  In short they found this group was far less likely to give up their personal life today for the prospect of a partnership down the road.  The value structure was shifting more towards experiences than acquiring things.

Interesting to note is how this new value structure is also being reflected in Baby Boomers.  The Great Recession robbed them of the ability to retire early as they saw their investments fail.  It required them to reassess what they valued in life: time or things.  Most have decided to choose to have life experiences in the time they have remaining.  Downsizing acquisitions and upsizing experiences has become the trend for this generation.

Leaders need to better understand the value they offer to their current and future employees.  By integrating work-life balance into their overall package, they will increase engagement and retention.  They should look at this challenge through a holistic lens so they do not perceive it simply as a specific generational or gender issue.  Policies and practices should be geared towards an inclusive solution that impacts the overall workforce.

 

Study: long working hours made 58% more irritable and over 25% depressed.

 

Mindful Practices

How to Find Your Sweet Spot in Your Twenties

Find Your Sweet Spot

 

“Every one of us has a unique calling in our lives.” -Paul Sohn

 

When is the best time to start discovering your life’s purpose?

Most people are on an elusive chase to answer this big life question. We almost see it: then it disappears before we can grab hold of it.

My friend Paul Sohn says the best time to find your calling is in your twenties. Paul is a blogger, speaker and author who has a mission to help people find their passion. Paul has just released a book, Quarter-Life Calling: Pursuing Your God-Given Purpose in Your Twenties. It’s a guide for Millennials who are seeking their life’s sweet spot.

 

What’s the Paul Sohn definition of a sweet spot? Why does finding it matter?

I believe that sweet spot is that zone when you are living out your calling intentionally in every sphere of influence. Whether it is family, school, work, or church, living at your sweet spot is striving to find that place which is the intersection of your personality, gifts, passions, and life story. Your sweet spot leads you to live a life that matters – where you get to live out your purpose.

 

“Your sweet spot is the zone when you live out your calling intentionally.” -Paul Sohn

 

If you imagine a Venn diagram, finding your sweet spot is at the intersection of four interlocking circles. The first circle is about your personality – the specific tendencies and temperament you’re hardwired. The second circle is your giftedness, your marketable skills talents and strengths that some were born with and others developed over time. The third circle is your passions – the things that ignite your soul. And when you combine that with addressing the needs of the world that becomes a powerful force in discovering your calling. Lastly and not least, it’s your life story. You have gone through specific experiences, the ups and downs, the open doors and closed doors in life.

Copyright Paul Sohn, Used by Permission Copyright Paul Sohn, Used by Permission

 

“You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” -St. Augustine

 

What are the symptoms of someone who has not found his/her sweet spot?

27 Practices Resilient Leaders Use to Thrive

Struggles, Difficulties & Challenges

Someone once told me that people identify more with your struggles than your successes. It’s true for me, too. It’s hard to identify with those who have seemingly had win after win with no knowledge of the effort it took to make it happen. If you talk with any successful person long enough, you start to uncover the difficulties, the challenges, the struggles, and the failures that happened along the way.

One of my entrepreneurial friends, Faisal Hoque, has a new book out about resilience. Faisal and his co-author, journalist Lydia Dishman, share what they learned studying leaders who have thrived in the midst of adversity.  Survive to Thrive: 27 Practices of Resilient Entrepreneurs, Innovators, And Leaders is a journey into resilience.

Faisal recently shared with me more about his latest work.

 

LEARNING TO BE RESILIENT

What is your definition of resilience?

Resilience is the universal human capacity to face, overcome, and even be strengthened by experiences of adversity.

 

“Resiliency is the belief that you can conquer anything.”

 

 survivetothrive

 

Is it possible to learn to be more resilient?

Along with our own life experiences, Lydia and I have examined the stories of a variety of leaders who faced ill health, professional setbacks, emotional loss, and a host of other life-changing events, in order to illustrate how each achieved personal transformation and success by mining their own resilience.

Each story focuses on one of nine essential principles needed to overcome adversity and seize opportunities:

I AM:

  • A person people can like and love
  • Loving and empathetic
  • Willing to be responsible for what I do

I HAVE:

  • People I trust and who love me, no matter what
  • Role models
  • Health, education, and support

I CAN:

  • Communicate
  • Manage feelings and solve problems
  • Seek out trusting relationships

Offered as affirmations for success, we outline take-away lessons and daily practices that can be incorporated in your own professional journey.

 

THE MUST DO’S

Of all of the daily practices you outline in the book, what three are ‘must do’s’ for everyone?

Skip, as you know from your life’s journey, each person’s experiences and challenges are uniquely theirs. And life – personal as well professional – hardly has a formula. What we tried to do is provide contextual learning.

For example, in one of the chapters, we have summed up three key concepts necessary to becoming more authentic and resilient through self-acceptance:

  • self-love
  • self-expression
  • self-confidence

faisal.hoque300dpi2013By practicing self-acceptance, we discover the complexities of our emotions, vulnerabilities, and imperfections. And this is what creates our true authenticity. When we decide to embrace our authentic self, we give ourselves the opportunity to grow.

In an attempt to make these daily practices sustainable for our readers, we have also created a resiliency app.   The Survive To Thrive free app can be accessed at www.SurviveToThrive.pub.

 

“Reinvention is the essence of the resilient mindset.”

 

REINVENTION AND RESILIENCE

Whatever Your Past, You Can Write A New Ending To Your Story

Rewrite Your Story

I remember her sitting on the couch, telling her story. My mom was listening, nodding her head and taking it in. This woman had a tough life and she recounted stories of abuse, of hurt, of neglect. My presence barely registered as she poured out her pain. Only a few, carefully chosen questions, that was all it took from mom. Like a skilled surgeon piercing infected skin, she used a question like a scalpel, surgically timed and designed to alleviate pain.

 

“It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.” -Shakespeare

 

It’s funny how I can recall the room so clearly now: the curtains and wallpaper in the room, the sofas, the layout, the piano nestled in the corner. It’s all etched in my memory. Also etched in my memory is the story. It was different from others, sure, but in so many ways it was the same.

My family took people in; mostly people in trouble; people in need; people with histories, pain, and shame. Though we were not the wealthiest in the world, there was always room for one more at the table. Some came for a single meal while others would stay for years.

As I listened to the particulars of this woman’s story, I felt for her. You couldn’t help but be affected as you heard the details.

I learned some lessons:

  • Pain can be used as a powerful force for good.
  • We don’t have to keep re-reading that chapter.
  • We can turn the page.
  • We can welcome new characters, new narratives, and new opportunities.
  • We can write the ending.
  • We can create a story worth living, one that can inspire others.

 

“Your life’s best chapters are ahead of you. Turn the page with great expectation.” -Skip Prichard

 

You say, “Skip, I didn’t have that kind of life. I didn’t have abuse or pain. Life was normal.”