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Goodbye Balance, Hello Life

Stew Friedman, a management professor at Wharton Business School, recently published a book called Leading the Life You Want: Skills for Integrating Work and LifeForbes covered it today, as did the Harvard Business Review, and I’m guessing the media blitz will continue.  The liveliness of the work/life discussion never fails to disappoint.

Friedman re-frames work/life integration in a way that has resonated with me for a long time — focusing on a binary choice between work and life isn’t realistic or productive.  The real challenge is building a meaningful and daring and beautiful and adventurous life that is fueled by lots of things, one of which is our work.  Our work can feed our lives, but it doesn’t have to define our lives.  And our lives can ignite our work, but they don’t need to be dominated by our work.

According to Friedman, three simple principles can help us keep our lives (and the role of work in them) on course:

  1. Be real.  Act with authenticity by clarifying what’s important to you.
  2. Be whole. Act with integrity by recognizing how different parts of your life (work, home, community, self) affect one another.
  3. Be innovative.  Act with creativity by experimenting with how to get things done in ways that are good for you and the people around you.

This way of looking at life holistically makes me think of a poignant piece Momastary blogger, Glennon Melton, wrote a few weeks ago about making the point that “Your Body is Not Your Masterpiece — Your Life Is.”  She’s right, and this analogy extends way beyond the body…

Your career is not your masterpiece.  YOUR LIFE IS.

Your children are not your masterpiece.  YOUR LIFE IS.

Your relationships are not your masterpiece.  YOUR LIFE IS.

Your home is not your masterpiece. YOUR LIFE IS.

All of these parts of our lives are spectacularly beautiful and complex and unique pieces of art, but they’re pieces.  Pieces that together add up to a masterpiece.

Thank you to Stew Friedman for igniting a dialogue about how to design, build, and live well, whole lives.  May this be just the beginning.

Goodbye balance, hello life.

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