A friend and colleague said to me at a recent professional conference that she doesn’t believe in work-life balance, rather she looks for work-life harmony. If that didn’t capture exactly what I’ve been trying to say to students and other colleagues for so long, I don’t know what could! This is not a new concept, but one I’ve been trying to re-frame personally.
Then a few days later I read an article in Business Insider saying the exact same thing. The CEO of Amazon expresses some of these same sentiments. When you find your true calling and passion, it gets very difficult to turn work or life outside of work on and off. To try to do so is self-defeating.
The difference is not trivial. The clues are in the definitions and synonyms you find through a simple web search. Balance is about even distribution and equilibrium. It connotes impartiality. Harmony, meanwhile, is about agreement, combination, and even peace. What words would you rather choose or embrace related to the relationship between work and life? I really appreciated this author’s very personal and practical take on Balance vs. Harmony.
I’m curious how those of you reading this experience work-life harmony. Is there a real difference? What do you actually do to achieve harmony?
Whatever you feelings about this – know that it is OK that your work and non-work intersect. Embrace it; understand it is messy and sometimes confusing; and at the end of the day try to achieve harmony between the two. You spend so much time thinking about or doing work, it just seems to make sense that you seek harmony as opposed to some artificial sense of balance.
“Everybody is a genius. But, if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing that it is stupid.” – Einstein
This quote (and that picture) gives me chills. We are nearing the end of the first month of a new year. Students are settling into new semesters, and some folks are settling into new jobs and/or resolutions.
I’m going to give you the some advice I was sharing with two student leaders earlier this month on a trip to the Twin Cities
. In talking about their future goals, I wondered if they and other knew how much I love what I do? I literally make a good living AND live my passion. So often people assume those are mutually exclusive goals. I have heard students say, “I love playing piano and making music, but I’m going to medical school – I have to make money somehow!” Or I love this one…”I’ll go be a business person and make a lot of money, then I’ll do what I want to do.” I have an idea; what you should do is sell that time machine you have. You know, the one that gives you the foresight that you will be alive long enough to spend your whole life working, and then “do what you really want to do.” Let me suggest that you don’t have time for that. None of us do. And what happens in the midst of foregoing your true talent, passion, and genius? You get beat down, worn out, and spend your entire life trying to climb a tree, when you were meant to swim.
There are philosophers studying engineering; engineers studying psychology; great architects studying to be economists; and business women studying pre-med. There is something to be said about being “well-rounded,” but I personally believe, as do the authors of the StrengthsQuest
works, that the best of the best leaders and professionals are not well-rounded, they are sharp. They know that they are fish, and they swim better than the rest. They reject the belief that what they did well in high school (an infinitesimally small moment in time) or in some random summer camp has set their path in stone. The best of us are explorers, willing to take risks on themselves to find and live their true genius.
Going into this new semester, or job, or experience, know that it is a new day. Life is too short, and life is too long to live it out of your purpose.
Ask yourself if you are pursuing what you know you should doing. Either affirm that and be excellent, or stop the madness, and go be who you are called to be.
Watch the world’s best perform. The best anything, athlete, musician, educator, scientist. You can turn your TV on right now and see the world’s best doing what they love. It’s not just the physicality of what they do, though that is remarkable. But watch their faces. Watch how their very souls come out in the work they are doing. I see this despite the gender of the performer, and despite the particular sport. There is a grit and joy in what they do. What is most amazing is they do it without shame or concern for what others think. No matter how silly they may look (some sillier than others honestly), or how they contort their bodies and faces in ways others may not understand or quite appreciate, they do it anyway. No shame – it is all left on the court/ice/slopes. I love that. They do what they do with such grace, passion, and commitment that it inspires me to do and be better. I have to ask you to do and be better too.
What if we brought this same energy to the work we do; the relationships we build; our businesses; our ministries? We could all be Olympians in that respect, and the world would that much better. That to me is the goal. To be expert and excellent at being my best possible self, and doing my best possible work. It requires a level of self awareness, commitment to who you are, and unashamed joy to do it. Check out these Olympians doing what they do, and challenge yourself to do it too.
Share this with someone who needs to be encouraged to do more, and be better.
At the ripe old age of 32, I often think about my life, life’s work, and purpose on this earth. I often tell folks who complain / who wait / who fear / and who never get off the starting blocks that life is too short, and life is too long to do something that you don’t love / to worry / to fear / to never start something, anything. So I have committed my life to helping others live their life – no matter how short or long it may be. At the same time I try to remind myself to not be afraid, go learn, play, work hard, create, build….because if I leave tomorrow I want to be proud of what’s left. And if I live to be 110 I want to fill each day with purpose and vitality.
My ability to do this is rooted in my intimate knowledge of myself. I know what I am good at, I believe in my talents, and I maximize my opportunities because of that. I know of a few other folks that I believe did this too. Jonathan Larson died just before his 37th birthday. The Pulitzer Prize winner of the musical Rent lived his life while he was here. His friends and loved ones talked about his passion for his work, and that it excited everyone around him and resulted in art that no one else could have produced. He died young, but he will live forever. At 56 years old, inventor and entrepreneur Steve Jobs died. He built a company and a product that would be so pervasive that it created its own vocabulary. Its products would be synonymous with entire product categories. Next time you fly on any major airline listen to if they say “turn off all mobile devices; that includes mp3 players, tablets, etc,” or if they say “turn off all mobile devices, that includes iPods, iPads, etc.” See what I mean? Because he spent his time alive building and creating; he died young, but will live forever.
So it seems to me that the only course of action for any of us, is to live – and live with purpose and direction. Learning about who you are, and why you are is a never-ending journey, and one that you either need to start or continue, on a regular basis. With the recent creation of our tech startup Project Recreate, we want to help people start that journey. We want you to learn to master yourself, so that every day you live is a day you create, and thrive, and succeed. So check us out, and be sure to follow along as we help people re-create themselves.
Check out our vision for the new startup at http://projectrecreate.com