Achieving Balance

work life 2Do you believe that it is possible to strike a happy work life balance? The Web is rich with advice and smart tips all designed to help us figure out how to find the wonderful equilibrium in our life that promises to take all the beat-the-clock rushing and anxiety away. That balanced center that allows us to be mindfully “present” at work and home.  After 25+ years of juggling and trying all sorts of strategies, I’ve discovered that there really is no perfect balance “bulls-eye” that can assure our success and happiness. We often find that across all those good days when every important work deadline was met and all home priorities were neatly tucked away, we are still searching for something.  Like there is something more important we wanted to have than a 50/50 balance.

Friends, achieving balance is not what we should ultimately strive for.  Instead, try to concentrate on the feeling or state of mind that you want to have as you live through your decisions and choices.  Let me unpack this concept a little with a personal story.  My daughter’s school was putting on a new show that she was really excited about.  She loves dance and her part was to do a challenging “kick line” number with her friends.  For weeks she practiced and as she did, I pulled up a chair to compliment her progress and cheer.  Finally, the school officially announced the show dates.  I was very excited about ordering tickets and after visiting the website, my heart did a nose dive and sank.  The show days all fell on the same week I would be travelling for work.  No negotiating this one.  I was a key presenter at the meeting and had to be there.  Classic example of what working moms encounter all the time.  The stars usually don’t align the way we want them to.  Despite our super human determination, we simply can’t be at two places at the same time.  I explained the situation to my daughter and she told me not a worry about it, she understood completely. The love and support of my husband and sisters assured me that all would be fine. They would all be there to take care of shooting the video and taking pictures.  On the surface, nothing was wrong.  The bases were covered.  Balance wasn’t an issue and everyone was happy.

Except for me.

Work Life Balance

Work Life Balance

I had to do something to try and make this work.  After a little brainstorming, I called the school (yes the thought to ask them to change the show date did cross my mind!) and explained the situation.  “Why don’t you come for the dress rehearsal?” Yes the dress rehearsal! It fell on a date that was clear.  I found my smile and couldn’t wait to tell my daughter that I would see the whole show start to finish at the rehearsal practice.  Though this plan wasn’t perfect, it made me feel so much better.  On rehearsal day, there was only one lady sitting in the bleachers for a good long while…Me!  I clapped after every number and when my daughter’s turn finally came, I cherished every second of cheering her on. She was also very happy to know that somehow mom found a way to get there and be part of something that was important to her.

So when it comes to work life balance, don’t focus on trying to do it all. Instead, zero in on how you want to feel after you make work life choices.  Know your limits and think about how your decisions will leave you feeling after you’ve made them.  I was lucky to have found an alternative. But I knew in my heart that I would have to bow out of the meeting if it really came to it.  The feeling of missing the event was too hard.  Managing career and home this way will mean some things will fall second to other more important priorities.  Some things may not happen at all.  The key is that you are not striving to achieve balance per se, but making good choices by paying attention to how you feel and want to feel at the end of that particular journey.

The True Meaning of Leadership

john maxwellHow do you define leadership? Some define it as the ability to influence others through trust that has been earned over time.  Strong leaders know how to inspire their team to keep moving forward in spite of problem seekers who toss up one obstacle after the other. Others identify leaders as individuals with inner courage to stay true to his or her personal values. To do what is right even if it means making an unpopular choice. Accepting that going against the majority could mean losing friends or a seat in the inner circle.  George Washington, Abe Lincoln, Mother Theresa and Martin Luther King are all examples of truly great leaders who lived and died for causes they were passionate about.

Life is replete with every day people who like these extraordinary individuals, somehow find a way to achieve the seemingly impossible.  The Christian faith brims with individuals specially chosen by God to carry out a seemingly impossible mission.  Each, at one point or another, asked God how such a thing could be done in the face of great adversity.  God’s answer was always the same.  He told them not to fear because He would be with them.  To take nothing on the journey. His grace was sufficient. The Blessed Mother, the Apostles and the Saints obediently answered in faith and forever changed the world as a result.

walker

Challenges

And what about you and me?  Do we have what it takes to lead?

Count on life to present us with difficult situations that will surely reveal what we are made of. We don’t have to be a politician or the CEO of a big company to face the true leader’s test. Tests of leadership come in all different types of situations.  Take for example the typical office meeting.  No one wants to be the first to weigh in on an important decision that has to be made. The boss chooses not to influence the group with his/her own view and waits to hear what the team thinks should be done.  Silence hangs in the air as eyes dart around searching for the voice who will speak first.  That gut feeling inside tells you what to do yet you aren’t sure to go with it because your colleagues might not agree.  Do you speak up and pull the silence out of the air or do you take the safer route and wait until someone else makes the first move?  Or perhaps your child is complaining about being picked on by a kid at school. Turns out that the bully’s father is the soccer coach for the team your child is trying to join. What would you do?  Do you bring the issue up knowing full well that doing so could decrease your child’s chances of making the team?

Go with Your Gut

Go with Your Gut

In times like these, true leaders listen to their heart – that inner guide leading them to do the right thing. Leadership means sacrifice and to be a strong leader, one must be ready to give up the security that comes with the status-quo.  Choose your friends and advisers wisely.  Keep your inner circle filled with individuals you can trust to give good objective advice and support. Washington had the loyalty of the trusted LaFayette.  Always remember your family is your ultimate support system. They will be there to remind you of what really is important and what they know you value.  George Burns had Gracie, Bogart had Bacall and Mork always could rely on Mindy’s candid advice.

Yes, the qualities of a leader are many.   I hope that sharing my thoughts on some of the most important qualities needed to lead are helpful to you in some way.  Courage, Confidence, Faith, Trusted Friends, Ability to Listen to Your Own Voice – and a Vision.

Let me know what resonates with you when it comes to leadership.

Who do you admire today?

What is it about them that makes them a leader?

My best,

Marie