Thursday, February 21, 2008

Balancing Work and Life by Bill Butterworth

You know what I like best about reading books themed around the idea of balancing work and life? It lets me clearly see how unbalanced I was in the last year at my old job and how balanced I am now. The people who need to read these books are the people who haven’t seen their children awake for weeks, because they leave early each morning before they wake up and get home late each night after they’ve gone to bed. Those people need some serious help. Still, three things for me to remember from this one:

1. Both/And, not Either/Or. The story is kind of corny, but the point is well made. Guy promises his kid he’ll be at his little league game, then nearly has to cancel because an important client meeting comes up. What does he do? Does he go to the little league game and blow off the client OR does he meet the client and disappoint his son? The answer—neither. Stop viewing things as either/or propositions. Take the client to the little league game and then out to dinner with your son and his team afterward. The client loves baseball, doesn’t he?

2. Regularly ask yourself the following questions:
A. Will the thing that is causing imbalance in my life really matter ten years from now?
B. Is it possible for me to do fewer unimportant things at work and outside the office?
C. Can I accomplish my goals and be flexible at the same time?
D. Can I replace “either/or” with “both/and”?
E. Can I work smarter as opposed to harder?
F. Can I pencil in time to “Don’t just do something; sit there”?

3. Everyone is scared of failing. And that’s not a reason not to keep trying. “I’m scared,” I volunteered meekly. “You all are being so supportive, it’s overwhelming. I know I have the best friends in the world, based on what I have heard here tonight. And your level of confidence in my ability is truly humbling.” I paused and took a deep breath, trying my best not to hyperventilate. “I just wish I had the same confience you do. I’m responsible to care for and feed this wonderful family I’ve been given. Failing at that privilege would be the most horrible failure I can think of. I’m frightened.”

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