I recently read a fascinating article in Business Insider on Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and his advice on achieving a “work-life” balance. In the piece, Bezos explains that he doesn’t buy into the concept of balancing work and personal life. And it’s not because he works all the time or expects his team members to either. In fact, Bezos spends significant time outside of the office and out of the boardroom.
For Bezos, the “balance” framework seems punitive as it implies that a choice must be made between the work and the personal and that we must sacrifice one for the other. Instead, he chooses to think about the way we can find harmony in our overall lives—integrating all that we do and are passionate about pursuing.
On the heels of this article and with the holidays around the corner when we are all looking forward to taking time away from work to spend with our friends and family, it seemed like a good time to reflect on how I approach and, in turn, model, finding the harmony between life and work. For like Bezos, I tend to think the relationship between work and my personal life not as a competition, but as one that feeds off of each other, making both stronger and more fulfilling.
For those who know me, know I tend to be an “all-in” kind of guy. I love what I do and am passionate about it. I believe, this makes me a better father, son, husband, and friend. So that being said, I try to enjoy the time I have outside of work, whether it be spending time with family, golfing with my buddies or volunteering at organizations for which I am passionate. And in return, this time away from work fuels me for when I come into the office and I hope, makes me a better team member and leader. For me, there is no separation between work and life—it is all my life. Each part fuels the other and makes me who I am.
However, there are times when I have to focus on one aspect of my life more than another—when there is an important event or project that I am working on or when I have a family issue I need to give my attention to. And of course, from time to time I have missed out on professional and or personal events that I wanted to attend, but I try incredibly hard to do the things that mean the most to me both professionally and personally.
I think a critical aspect to leadership is modeling this behavior to my team members. I want to encourage them not to feel like they have to put their personal lives to the side to be a successful member of the team, and I want them to take pride and satisfaction in feeling fulfilled at work.
I want them to feel comfortable saying to me that they need to go to a soccer game, accompany a parent to a doctor’s appointment or take a yoga class. I know that those things bring them joy and are times to cherish. I want to also celebrate their successes at work and push them to strive for the very best they can be, I know if they feel this satisfaction inside and outside of work they will be happier and contribute more to all aspects of their lives.
As we enter the holidays, I hope we can all really be present in the moment, enjoying the time with family and friends and set goals for the year ahead. For I know that it is this special time away from the office that will help bring passion into the work we do in 2019.