My Surprise Secret to Work-Life Balance
By Dana Theus on June 11, 2012
I’ve been on a conscious, 15 year quest for work-life balance and have actually achieved a great deal of it (throws confetti). Recently I’ve been documenting a lot of my learning’s about what’s worked and what hasn’t during this time, and integrating it into my coaching practice, but it wasn’t until last week that I had a really important ah-ha! that I wanted to share.
“Balance” Is Really Not The Point
You see, I’ve always thought of work-life balance as “work-life baloney”, meaning that balance was less the objective than a life that integrated work in ways that meets your needs and desires, even if they’re “unbalanced” through the eyes of others.
I still think this is true, but I was focused until this point on what I wanted – and getting really clear on my goals and intentions. Getting clear on what you want definitely does contribute to work-life balance because it helps you release all the things cluttering up your life that aren’t contributing to your intention, creating space for what you DO want. It helps you create space in your life to attract what you want in your work.
But part two of this dynamic is that to fill your life with what you want, you must attract it to you – to fill that space you created by releasing things. And what attracts things to you so fast it can make your head spin? Being authentically you and – this part is really important – expressing your authentic self confidently and clearly. When you shine this expression into the world, those who can help you achieve your intention are attracted like bees to a delicate flower stem.
This was the part that surprised me – that creating space by itself wasn’t enough to achieve my goals. I always thought that if I just created the space, I could have work-life balance – and I do. But now I see that filling that space very intentionally is just as important. Parkinson’s Law - work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion- is operating in our work-life balance quests. Something will fill your time even when you create more time for it, so to fill your time with what you want, you have to be very intentional about it, and put out there what you want!
The Law Of Attraction And Career Advancement
This sounds kindof woo-woo, but I’m here to tell you that it works in the halls of power just as well. I’ll give you an example. A few months back I attended an exclusive gathering of Washington DC power-people. I’m not talking about the glitz brigade you’ll find in the Style Section of the Washington Post, I’m talking about people in government agencies that make decisions about the billions of dollars in the federal budget. I was just getting InPower Women launched and looking for some good interview subjects and I noticed a three star female Air Force General in the crowd. Setting my intention on talking to her and inviting her to be interviewed, I looked for an opportunity.
To my delight during the networking hour I looked over and there she was, four feet away without anyone to talk to. Sensing that this wouldn’t be the case long, I smiled and said something innocuous and inviting. We chatted about typical pleasantries and issues – including work-life balance! - with some other women and I wasn’t getting anywhere near my invitation for an interview. As the group broke up I knew it was now or never and I remember making a conscious decision to just be totally authentic about my interest in her view of power, her experience as one of the few top ranking women at the Pentagon, and my genuine desire to share her story with other powerful women. It was all true, but in this scrum of those who control external power (money and authority), my interest in her internal power and sharing it on a site that didn’t even exist yet seemed “soft” and pretty intangible. But it was real and it was mine, so I took off my “Washington business mask” and just made the ask with my authentic interest front and center.
When she looked at me and our eyes connected, it was our authenticity talking because she relaxed and responded with genuine and authentic interest to my request. It turns out that Lieutenant Generals don’t get asked about their personal relationship with power very often and yet it’s very important to them. I got the interview and Lt Gen Judith Fedder and I are now in touch via email on a semi-regular basis. If I’d been trying to sell her a thousand airplane widgets instead of a blog interview this might not have been as successful, but then again, it might have been.
The point is that until I made the human connection through my own authentic curiosity, interest and intent – and I had to take off my “business mask” to do it. If I hadn’t spent years learning to reprogram my inner dialog – the little gremlin whispering in my ear that I’m not worthy of interviewing a General – I may never have been able to do it, so those fifteen years weren’t wasted. But without the ability to put myself authentically forward, I couldn’t have attracted what I wanted.
As I’ve been developing and launching my eSeminar on how to develop your Authentic Leadership Style, this attraction value of Authenticity is becoming clearer to me. Authenticity is a powerful, attracting force. And while many of us fixate on how our authenticity can push some people away (or, more to the point, make us less interested in attracting some people), when we focus on it and aligning our Authentic self to our intention, it becomes a powerful magnet pulling what we want to us.
I had another a-ha while preparing the eSeminar that I’ll share in a post next week.
Join Kristi and Dana for an Authenticity-building leadership eSeminar designed to help you build your personal communication and presence strategies authentically, genuinely and in ways that directly benefit your career. Learn more.