The core Dale Carnegie course is an 8-week program where participants come together once a week for 3 hours. In session 7, participants step outside their comfort zone and present a 2-minute Inspiration Talk. The objectives of the talk are to: ‘Communicate with Strong and Powerful Feelings; Connect with Others on an Emotional Level and Inspire Others to Think and Act Differently’.
I’ve been in several of these “Session 7s” at this point and over and over I hear a similar message. A message I think we all take for granted, unless we’re one of the people who has experienced what these participants talk about. Here’s what they tell us:
“You only get one chance at life and it’s short and uncertain. Make sure you remember what’s most important to you and always make that a priority.”
Let me put this into perspective.
We heard, in this one class, no less than 5 accounts of people who felt intense guilt because they had made choices about not going to see an important person in their life on one occasion and then, never had the opportunity to do so later. We heard a couple stories of loss within companies and its impact on both the company and the people within it.
We’ve heard people, myself included, talk about how they became so consumed by their career and the aspiration of money and status, that they lost a great deal of time they could have had with their spouses, children, friends and family. Many expressed that their greatest regret was not being there to watch their children grow up.
So, what does it all mean?
First let me say, and this is simply my perspective, I don’t believe that there is such thing as Work/Life Balance. The word itself implies that it’s equal on both sides. Today’s business reality is that we’re being asked to do more, better and faster, with less. Taking this into account and thinking about how much time we spend at work, traveling to/from work, thinking about work, working at home: I don’t think it’s about balance, but rather a blend.
I think we should all strive towards something that is achievable – Work/Life Blending
So, what does that look like?
The first premise behind this is do what you love. Engagement surveys today suggest that upwards of 70% of employees are either fully or partially disengaged. My experience suggests that much of this is because we’re in jobs that we’re really not passionate about and, therefore, not really connected to. Going back to what I started with, life is too short to stay at a job that you’re not happy in. Do yourself, and your employer, a favour: if you’re not happy at work find a place where you will be.
Next, find an organization that supports your ability to manage your work and home life effectively. That means, finding an organization that is supportive of a give and take relationship. If I leave work early today to attend my son’s or daughter’s activity, I’ll come in early or stay late tomorrow to make it up. Or, if I have to work late or take work home, I have the possibility to kick out early on Friday. Again, it’s not about balance, it’s about finding a blend that supports your life.
And supporting your life means having no regrets. I’ve never heard anyone in my life say: “You know what; I’ve spent too much time with my friends and family.” Unfortunately, I have heard the opposite all too often. While you still can, spend as much time doing the things you love outside of work with the people that are most important in your life. Remember, when it’s all said and done, your legacy will be about those people, not about the fact that you were the guy who stayed at work all hours of the night.
I close with a quote:
“We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life, when all we need to make us really happy is something to be enthusiastic about.” – Charles Kingsley
My challenge to you is to get enthusiastic about your life and live it to the fullest.