“There’s no such thing as work-life balance. There are work-life choices, and you make them, and they have consequences.” -Jack Welch
The Bible’s book of Ecclesiastes carries with it a few metric tons of sound life advice. Two of the constant themes throughout the book are “there is nothing new under the sun” and “practice nothing to excess.” As you read through the book, it quickly becomes apparent that humanity has the same set of problems today as existed 3,000 years ago. One verse that directly applies to that commonality is Ecclesiastes 10:19 (KJV): “A feast is made for laughter, and wine maketh merry, but money answereth all things.” In context, the writer of Ecclesiastes is reminding us that, as far as earthly matters are concerned, money is necessary for our physical needs.
That need for income extends to our families as well. The care of my family is of utmost importance for me and is one of my greatest responsibilities. Half of caring for our families is working to supply food, clothing, shelter, and providing advantages. It is difficult to remember that aspect of “family first” when an important meeting bars us from attending a school play or soccer game. During those times we must be satisfied with the knowledge that our hard work provides the costume for the play and the best soccer cleats on the market. But we must not use this rationale as an excuse to be an absentee parent. Make every effort to attend the dance recitals, soccer games, and cheer competitions of life. Don’t be too hard on yourself when work requires that you occasionally miss.
The other lesson Ecclesiastes 10:19 gives us is that laughter and merriment are components of the good life too. Work-life balance for leaders starts by assisting our team members to achieve that in their own lives. When we assist our team with those goals, we not only find solutions for ourselves, but we also build loyalty within our team members.
Leaders from Jack Welch to Sheryl Sandberg say that work-life balance is impossible. I disagree; however, I know from experience that it’s an elusive art—almost literally like walking a tightrope. To over-lean to one side, our personal lives and families suffer. To over-lean to the other, our work, our company and potentially our financial security suffer. Learn the art of tightrope walking. You’ll be glad you did.
Walking the Tightrope: Accelerators
- On a scale of one to ten (one being best and ten being worst), rate yourself on the aspect of work/ life balance.
- Identify two or three things you can do to make personal improvements in this regard.
- Now identify the two or three things you can do to help your team members walk the work/life tightrope more consistently and confidently.
Dr. Jeff D. Standridge is the best-selling author of “The Innovator’s Field Guide” and “The Top Performer’s Field Guide.” He serves as Managing Director for the Conductor and Innovation Junkie, and teaches in the College of Business at the University of Central Arkansas. Jeff helps organizations and their leaders generate sustained results in the areas of innovation, strategy, profit growth, organizational effectiveness and leadership. Learn more at InnovationJunkie.com.