I heard a very interesting approach to work life balance a few days ago from a Google executive. It resonates deeply with me and my approach to work and life… But then at the end he completely flipped 360 and said he was changing his approach to work life balance. It got me thinking and I wanted to share my thoughts.
I’ve been very regimented about my life for quite some time. Most of my good friends know that I love to eat within a certain time band and if not, I get grumpy. I sleep and wake up at pretty much the same times every day. I like to get to work and leave at the same time everyday and generally, it’s worked pretty well. I refuse to spend more than 40 hours in the office, even if my week requires more time to get everything done.
This brings up the real question of “work life balance”. Is it simply just putting your laptop away when you’re home? Not checking your phone? Or is it something completely different? I’ve spend most of my career working at small to medium sized “startups” (startups that already raised capital). Coincidentally, they were both bootstrapped and I had joined to help scale the acquisition campaigns. So no, I wasn’t spending every waking hour thinking about how to keep the lights on tomorrow, but more about how we’re going to keep the lights on for the next 6 months or more. So it’s not a mad scramble every day to survive, but i definitely wasn’t a walk in the park.
In that world, there really isn’t an 8-5. An old buddy/coworker of mine would say “PPC never sleeps”. And that’s true of any role at a company that needs to grow. It really comes down to personal ambition and drive right? If you’re in a work environment dominated by fear and scare tactics, eventually your quality of work will decline and ultimately quit. But if you really find a company that you believe in and want to see succeed, you’ll fight, scratch and claw for anything that will help drive the business forward.
So is it really work life balance when work = life? For those of you who really love your jobs… Doesn’t that drive or fire from within stem from seeing results, accomplishing something that others thought was too difficult, or being an expert in a discipline and bring real value to the company? For me, that’s what drives me to wake up and get out of bed. Sure there are politics, social dynamics, difficult situations, management issues, etc… But for me, there’s nothing more satisfying than rallying behind a team of talented, diverse and incredibly smart human beings to accomplish a goal. It’s like a drug; each success, each callout, each time I have proven myself to drive real value, I get a little boost. But I don’t bask in any glory or boast to the world, I add it to my fire, continue to push and learn and grow… to just be better.
The way I see it, there are many things that make up my livelihood – family, friends, my dogs, cycling, photography, etc… Life is just different amounts of each. It’s balancing these that’s the difficult part. So instead of doing “work”, find a little bit of “life” at work and maybe, just maybe, it won’t be so bad.