Work-life balance is an interesting concept. It sounds like it should be a nice measure scale that measures our work and life in equal portions until the scale balances out.
In my experience it really has not worked that way at all. What I have realized is that it is really work-life-learning. This is what the learning boundaries between work and life really disappear and you are bringing over learning from one area into the other and enriching the experience.
I have a few passions outside of my company but the most topical and seasonal is gardening. I enjoy both the process and the results of gardening - the journey and the destination, This is very helpful for me in my entrepreneurship journey as I keep reminding myself to enjoy both the journey and the destination.
I noticed early on in my career that my team members might not be passionate about their job but they could talk for hours about sports or construction or whatever they were passionate about! ! Yes, I was the only female in my team for a long time including when I managed the team. Made me get used to being one of the ‘boys’.
The secret was to tap into that passion to help them relate to what’s happening at work.
Here is an example with respect to gardening as it is a passion of mine - but replace gardening with anything, fixing houses, bowling, climbing mountains- literally anything, as long as there is the passion behind it.
Here is how work and life bring on learnings from each other for me.
Goals : Always have a goal or purpose. My gardening WIG is to have color in most parts of the garden from the beginning of March to the beginning of December. In the face of Chicago weather, the fact that perennials shrubs and trees typically flower ten days or less means the following: Where to plant what, color combinations, understands weekly flowering schedule, and so on. This is no less than an annual business plan with weekly reviews and daily execution.
Plan the execution and execute the plan:
I spend most of the year planning, most of the execution is in the spring and fall and the rest is maintenance. Everyone loves to see spring bulbs in April and May, but that is a result of planning in September and October the previous year.
Start ugly, i.e., MVP
When I started my garden in my first house, it was because where we completely over budget with the house and I could not stomach the landscaper’s bill and thought how hard can it be? But I started small and started very ugly. Similar to the entrepreneurial journey or anything new you are trying to do. Start Ugly and then build on it.
Always lessons learned. What grows in what zones. What are the microclimates in the yard? Which plant survives and what dies in a hot summer. How to keep them wintered? The fact that tulips are not perennial in Illionois especially if the ground under them gets a lot of water in summer. If you don’t pay attention to the lessons learned and record them you will tend to make the same mistakes over and over again.
Make bold moves at times even if you are not ready to make that move
This weekend I had to make the decision whether to remove the half-done tulips or not. The tulips were still the most colorful part of the garden although they were very much on their way out. But with rains coming in you sometimes have to make the decision to remove the bulbs and start ugly to plant the annuals even though the half-dead tulip look way better than the young annuals. How many times do we need to make the decisions in business when you need to move on with the future than stay with the past.
And this was this weekend’s worth of reflections.
The lines of learning between life and work are very blurred where it is difficult to understand what is inspiring what now!
If you are able to encourage work-life learning and empower your employees to bring their learnings into work, you can not only inspire individuals but also the entire team.