Lie 8: Work/Life Balance Matters Most

This is a video excerpt from The Freethinking Leader Coalition, unpacking the eighth lie in Marcus and Ashley’s upcoming book, Nine Lies about Work. To view the full video, read book excerpts, and engage with the authors, join here by pre-ordering the book. To learn more about The Freethinking Leader Coalition, click here.

Everyone is searching for that perfect balance between work and life. We think of work as depleting, a stressor, a transaction that we must suffer through so that we can buy things. So it makes sense that we need to balance work out with its opposite: Life. Work depletes; so life restores. You lose yourself at work; you find yourself in life. It’s no wonder that one of the most common questions candidates ask in interviews is, “How does your company view work/life balance?”

If you’re asking “How does your company view work/life balance?” then you’re asking the wrong question. Click To Tweet

But if we push on the word “balance,” we find it’s a strange concept. Who – in their work or their life – has ever actually found balance? Who has ever had that perfect moment where all the deadlines are hit, the kids are cared for, and the mortgage is paid? And if you were ever to find it, the only thing that would be running through your head would be, “NOBODY MOVE.”

Balance, when you really look at it, leads to stasis. It’s not a healthy way to move through life, it’s a method to keep things at bay. Not only is balance almost impossible to find, but once you find it, you can’t move off of it. It’s a recipe for stagnation.

We need a way to move forward through life healthfully – in a way that invigorates us. Figuring that out is what matters most.

How can we move through life in a way that invigorates us? Click To Tweet

What matters more than work/life balance? Pre-order Nine Lies about Work and join the Freethinking Leader Coalition today to find out.

8 Comments

  1. Darcy Kelly March 19, 2019 at 4:17 AM - Reply

    Thanks for these wise words! I feel a sort of weight lifted off my shoulders having heard you say to its ok to stop trying to achieve that perfect balance. Finding ways to stay invigorated feels like a much less daunting task!

  2. Michelle March 19, 2019 at 6:46 AM - Reply

    I agree. Life/work balance is the wrong approach. I believe that what we really seek is the balance between being and doing. Taking time to sit and enjoy AND moving towards what invigorates us.

  3. Michelle March 19, 2019 at 6:49 AM - Reply

    …and by enjoy I mean in touch with what you’re feeling, dream about what you really want, process emotions that are getting in the way, appreciate what is, right now.

  4. Melissa Asher March 19, 2019 at 6:58 AM - Reply

    For years I have been advocating for work-life integration rather than balance and wondering why work is characterized as separate from life. Fulfilling work is an invigorating part of life! Thank you Marcus for taking on this lie and bringing light to what I have felt all along!

  5. Anne March 19, 2019 at 9:49 AM - Reply

    Perfect for who.. ? Fulfilling work is enjoying the work you do under the best and worse of conditions. It is all about trying to adapt to the need at hand and collaborating with your employer to solution how you fit it all in.

    Last May my mother was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer combine the obligation of a caretaker and than as a person who loves their job — balance and perfection is often left by the side and you have to say I am doing the best I can do for the moment I have to split hairs – reduce some responsibility or up some responsibility or reimagine your work day to fit it all in.. the new normal might look like a puke pile until a cadence is established or can go directly downward as one need tips the balance over another. at the end of the day you have to feel you gave the help needed to all your obligations including your own sanity

  6. Sharon K. Summerfield March 19, 2019 at 11:07 AM - Reply

    For years I have been sharing the idea that we need to move way from the idea of work life balance and find ways to harmonize all the parts of our life. With the idea of “work life balance”, how can there ever be any balance if work is always at the forefront. Your words are so wise. I do believe what drives us is to create space to step towards work that is fulfilling. Thank you for raising more awareness on one of these key lies at work.

  7. Phil O'Connor March 21, 2019 at 3:19 AM - Reply

    It’s a blend, not a balance, sometime the dial turns up on one, other times it dials up on the other. The best places I have been part of, have been those where I have a greater degree of control on that blend – I have chosen to turn up the work dial, when I think it needs it (and so do those around me), but when its the right time, turn that dial down and the other dials up.

    By the way Marcus – some great stuff on this site, thanks for sharing.

  8. G April 8, 2019 at 4:56 AM - Reply

    Not feeling it.

    Work life balance is supposed to be a concept of work not taking over your entire life. If you work 60 hours a week in your office and barely have time for anything else when you throw in your commute time, that’s poor work life balance. If you can’t get away from your office to go to a doctor appointment, that’s poor work life balance. If you’re not taking your vacations, that’s poor work life balance. Regardless of what management tries to tell themselves, THESE THINGS ARE A PROBLEM.

    I don’t get the whole stasis thing on this video. Whatever. All I know is I have had the job where I was sitting in an exam room talking to my doctor when my manager started blowing up my phone, even though he had been told that I was going to the doctor. It’s stifling. It’s suffocating. And it leads to burnout. I know. I’ve been there too.

    In fact, I was utterly burned out when I left my last position. It took me over a year to stop just wanting to move out to a farm and tend crops and chickens and go fishing and never touch technology again.

    I’m an entrepreneur now. My business is growing. And, yes, I have achieved work life balance. If I want to go hiking in the mountains on a Wednesday and there’s nothing pressing, I go. If I’m really in the zone with a particular module and I badly want to finish it, I keep working into the evening until I’m done.

    I don’t think it has to be this mysterious, elusive thing. And certainly it has NOT caused stagnation or what have you. It has just meant that I have more control of my life. I’m happier and no longer watching the clock and dying to get away from my desk or worrying about the hell I have to pay because I took a day off or got stuck in traffic.

    I think if you don’t want to give your employees the peace of mind that comes from having a life, that’s sad and also a lot of what’s wrong with corporate culture in the US.

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