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Thoughts on Work Life ‘Balance’

June 18, 2010

The following quote about Work Life Balance is a synopsis from The OneLife Solution by Dr Henry Cloud and is taken from pgs 9-19.   I was intrigued when I discovered it in his book andslimmed down 10 pages to less than 10 paragraphs.   He actually promotes the idea of integration rather than balance; which is a core concept highlighted and expanded in “Professionals: Men and Women Partnering with the Trinity in Everyday Life.”  Here is what he says –

… Satisfaction in one’s work, and often in one’s life, is directly related to the emotional, relational, and performance aspects of work. In fact, people also change jobs for one of these three reasons: how it feels to be there, how the relationships are going, and how much success or fulfillment of their talents and passions they are achieving… [Success becomes] all about who you are, not where you are. The where will take care of itself if you are who you need to be… people [often] think that the answer is somehow “out there.” If they just could find the right company, then they would be happy. If they just had a different boss, then they could really soar. If the market were just a little better, then they could be successful… While there is truth in the difficulty of [these] situations, the real and most powerful truth that you can do anything about is yourself.

… The obstacles that prevent a person from becoming a structured and defined character take root when the normal developmental path is interrupted, hindered, broken, or not properly resourced in some way. Some people get further along in that path … than others, but most of us have encountered situations that tell us we have room to grow and that, if we did, our performance and well-being would benefit… today life has become so fragmented that people find it difficult to “bring it all together.” … People look to balance work and life, as if they sit on some sort of fulcrum or seesaw and the answer is to some how get them to be equal. I guess that means adding or subtracting from one side or the other, which certainly has some merit. But I prefer a different idea.

Instead of balance, let’s talk about “integration of work and life”—but not in the way that means to take one to the other in more and more ways. The integration I prefer is not about the space and time boundaries of work and life themselves but the integration of the person who is doing both of those—you. As you integrate all of your different parts into one person—one core from which you do all that you do, including work, life, relation ships, spirituality, health, and other parts—you will achieve balance as a by-product.

Balance will be a fruit … that will integrate your personality. Then you will not feel torn between many lives and be many different people, but one person, one life, with many different parts—none of them able to pull you apart from the others. That is the essence of one life… throughout all of it, we will be integrating life and work. Remember, this is about you as a person. It is not just about work problems and situations or personal problems and situations. This is about you, the person who has to live in both of those worlds. The intent is not necessarily to bring both of them together, but to bring you together to live in both worlds in an integrated way. As you integrate, you will be able to live more and more from a strong core, and create the life you were designed to live. The one life that only you can live, and live well.

To study the concept of integrating work and life in lieu of balancing and success and ‘fruitfulness’ as a byproduct of an integrated life consider reading “Professionals: Men and Women partnering with the Trinity in Everyday Life” by Robert W Alexander

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