This is of course not something every mortal is privileged to do: to make ‘work’ an exciting, fulfilling and meaningful part of life. I acknowledge that, actually, those of us who aim for this, or who are in a position to choose this path, live in a comfortable bubble compared with millions of fellow human beings.
Perhaps even a more compelling reason to use the privilege that we have been given. Perhaps a reason why good mangers not only manage a company well but also have the keys for a ‘good lived life’ of fellow co-workers.
I fear this sounds platitude-like but I think we take for granted that those of us who discuss employee engagement and work-life balance, and pontificate on pros and cons, are in such a tiny minority in the world that run the risk of living in a colossal navel-gazing.
Those of us in the bubble – that includes you fellow bubble reader – have perhaps a moral obligation to make the most of those powers to shape our working environments on behalf of those who are completely stuck and unable to move a finger.
Bringing morality to the HR/OD/Organizational party is not popular, but who says we should be?
Steve Jobs’ super-quoted phrases from his Stanford Commencement Address of 2015, the famous ‘stay hungry, stay foolish’ and ‘’You’ve got to find what you love,’ are still bubble speak but I can’t think of a better calls to action.
Every time I hear people saying that they care so much, above all, about their work-life balance I feel a bit sad. Mainly, because they need to distinguish between life (good) and work (less good). OK, or at least there is an antagonism, otherwise why to bother to stress it? I know, I know, they mean well, they don’t want to be sucked into permanent ‘work’, OK, I get it. But those who really master the famous work-life balance, are those who do it and don’t talk about it.
For those of us in the bubble I’d like to send an unpopular request: stop talking about work-life balance and find if you can (perhaps you have already but don’t know) that ‘thing that you love’ that allows you to ‘stay foolish and stay hungry’. Then live both fully. Each of us have different ways to connect and disconnect ‘with work’, to protect spaces of reflection, to engage or disengage with others (and that includes family, friends and colleagues) but I do not believe you can put a rigid timetable to it.
I have yet to meet a serious artist who paints her beautiful drawings from 13:30 to 16:45 (work) and then switches to ‘life’. At least not in my bubble.
I can feel a very long conversation with managers. And all of those conversations start with the word ‘but’.