If you haven’t yet read, the New York Times recently ran a feature titled When Life-Work Scales are Unequal for which I was both interviewed and photographed. This is my behind the scenes story of the opportunity, interview and photo shoot as well as a chance to give more context to my comments. Space is limited in the NYT but not here!
(If you want to check out the article you can read it here)
I would like to thank Hannah Seligson who I believe did a suburb job with a delicate subject and amazing NYT photographer Jim Wilson who was so fun to work with and had the idea to bring my dog Wilson into the shoot!
Sharing My Story
While I do believe in life work balance I know it’s different for every person so it’s not the job of the boss or owner to ensure that you achieve the right balance. Every time we assume that, we choose to give our power to someone else and make them the keeper of our time, happiness and life. No matter what kind of imbalance you think exists in your company, I firmly believe that we must stand up for ourselves.
As such I chose to take 100% responsibility for my lack of life and work balance earlier in my career. It’s true that I used to have zero boundaries on my time, giving so much of myself to work that I didn’t see the doctor when I was sick, I didn’t heal well after my car accident and I certainly didn’t have time to develop myself instead of giving so much to a business that wasn’t even mine.
I wanted to share this because I see so many talented people making my mistakes and it’s time we speak up.
In an effort to avoid finger pointing, I decided not to share names or time frames for the businesses I’ve worked at beyond general descriptions. Part of the relief of moving past such imbalanced relationships is that I am no longer (overly) emotionally invested in their success. While I wish these former companies well it’s not my place to call attention to problems which existed in the past. Instead I choose to focus on my own business and helping my clients find their own balance.
I think one of the many problems with achieving life and work balance for all people is that we’re not honest about the unspoken messages that are shared within our businesses.
How do We Find Balance?
Which brings me to the “after” part of this story – while acknowledging there’s a problem is incredibly important, I know you also have to move beyond that to healing it. Now, as owner of my own business, I am wholly responsible for finding and maintaining the balance in my life. Sometimes it’s much harder than it used to be, my office is just across the hallway and being online means work is always there, ready to creep in.
The proper life/work balance is something that no one else can decide for you. While I understand the article was the beginning of the discussion, I want to provide my own tips list on creating solutions.
- As an employer it’s dangerous to over-rely on any employee to an extreme degree
- If you’ve tried to re-achieve balance and cannot come to agreement, it’s okay to seek another arrangement
- As an employee honest communication is key; stand up and express when you feel overworked or out of balance
- Be honest about your availability and lifestyle choices
- Understand that your employees may find their work as part of their purpose, it may not be their only focus
- If you fear your team is out of balance, schedule time to talk with each team member personally
- If you find your life and work may be out of balance, reflect on what you need to re-balance
Are you interested in how this all came about?
Here’s the behind-the-scenes story…
It all started in July, ironically through Facebook in the middle of my “no social media challenge.” So yeah, I was cheating on the challenge when I saw a post from my colleague and the YEC co-founder Ryan Paugh about sharing work/life balance stories.
While I have no problem talking on the record, I was also aware that the last thing I wanted was to begin mud slinging with the former companies I’d worked for and – this was important – I wanted to share how things had changed me for the better in my own business.
So I sent off a quick email to Ryan and was soon introduced to Hannah, a wonderful reporter who was both friendly and exacting in her interview. At this time I had no idea who the article was for but I was happy to discuss because I know this is a big issue.
Additionally, I introduced Hannah to my colleague Lily Starling, with whom I’d discussed this subject many times. It wasn’t until Lily had her own interview on the subject that we learned the story was for the NYT.
Several weeks later a final round of clarification happened via email, at which time Hannah noted that the photographer would be contacting me for the shoot. Knowing that I wanted to have an outdoor shoot and glad to have a deadline, I revamped my outdoor patio (which I’d been using for work now for several years during good weather).
On Monday, July 30th I met Jim Wilson and we completed the shoot at my house including my docile dachshund, Wilson, in the photos. It was nerve wracking and fun all at once. Over the last week I spoke with Hannah for final fact checking and quotation confirmations for the edited article.
Many of my colleagues have asked how I came about this opportunity and I hope this answers some of those questions. I wanted to highlight a few things I learned:
- Facebook is not bad, even if this came in the middle of my failed “no social media” challenge
- When you see an opportunity, speak up!
- Sometimes the realization of that opportunity takes weeks or months but is always worth it in the end
- Be honest about your experience, fair in your retelling and grateful for the lessons that have brought you this far, especially when talking to the media
- If you want to be pursued for an interview, learn how to give a compelling ‘hook’ that makes reporters salivate
- Let go of the result – of whether they’ll print your picture, quote correctly and fully, where the story will end up or on what day – share without expectation of the outcome
If you’re curious about the work I do I encourage you to check out my Programs or get a taste of systems for your online business with free Tools and Classes. Because I love sharing my experience, mistakes and ideas I participate frequently in Media and if you’d like to connect personally just Contact my Team for details.