I just attended a fantastic talk given by Karol Rose of FlexPaths, a company that works with employees and employers to figure out what flexibility means in the workplace and how to offer it and live it so that it works for everyone. Their story is an inspired one of 4 women coming together synergistically to create and enforce a new paradigm in the world of work. Karol is a gifted speaker who calls herself the ‘grandma with a tech startup’…and she wears it well.
But what struck me the deepest was her statement, and belief, that there is no such thing as work/life balance. Her working phrase is work/life effectiveness. She maintains that the concept of work/life balance is a myth – a terrorizing, set-you-up-to-fail, myth (my descriptors). They will never be balanced because they are always shifting and moving. On Tuesday when your kid gets the chicken pox or is in the little league championships, the scale tips to life. On Wednesday when you have a presentation and 4 deadlines, the scale tips to work. No amount of planning can secure a set schedule, or an actual balance.
So the key is work/life effectiveness. Karol mentioned – and it was not news to me – that when I’m effective or successful (or even present) at home, I’m effective, successful and present at work. When I’m productive, satisfied and elated at work, so I am at home. They feed each other and they have to. But they aren’t balanced, they just lean up against each other…and create direct effects.
I don’t work in a corporate setting. I don’t have a team of, or even one, assistant to take over for me when life moves in with gale force…or even when my family decides they want me to go on vacation. This whole concept of work/life balance probably causes me the most stress of all. But when I heard that I didn’t have to achieve work/life balance -just had to be effective at all that I do as it slides, tilts and twirls – my shoulders let go of my ears, and I exhaled (a little bit).
What works for you? Balance? Effectiveness? or a new concept altogether?