Work/Life Balance Is Not 50/50


I have never believed the Work/Life “balance” line of thinking. Do you know how hard it is to balance? Kudos to gymnasts and tightrope walkers. They have it. Me? I’m going to fall. May not be right away, but it will be sooner rather than later. The biggest reason I don’t believe in this line of thinking is because to “balance” it takes one person. You can add more people to that tightrope, but that just increases the danger/excitement factor. One person is still carrying most of the weight.

So, why set myself up for failure by buying into a work/life balance? I came across an article by Jeff Bezos on LinkedIn. He’s a successful guy. He should know what this is all about, right? (Work/Life Circle) Well, I bought into this for a while. But, now I have my own theory.

Work and Life are a Newton’s Cradle. All of the balls represent different aspects of your life – specifically people in your life. To keep it with this theme – family members and teammates. Sometimes I am the one providing the energy to my people – pushing them forward to get things done. This is represented by the single ball putting others into motion from the right. Now, staying on the right, sometimes the energy comes from my boss (who happens to be my husband) pushing my team from the left to perform. When it is 2 balls together on the right – that is when you are working with a partner. Propelling your kids – or teammates – forward. And, yes, sometimes it takes a group to push just one individual in a good direction. Do you know which combination to avoid? You in the center, standing still, with work coming at you from one side and family from the other. When all of that energy lands on you, motion stops dead. This is not going to propel anyone forward and hurt you the most.

How did I come to this conclusion? As my children grow into adults, I am impressed with the way they step up and help out. Because I travel for work, they have needed to take the reins at home. Here’s one example: During #ABALouisville, our youngest needed to be picked up from after-school care by 6:00 p.m. The daughter in charge had to be at her job by 5:00. The oldest daughter was working, the oldest son was working, the middle son had a wrestling meet, in-town grandma was not in-town, and grandparents up north were also not available. (I’ll count for you: 5 kids.) My kids called me. Not to ask for a solution, but to tell me how they solved the problem. The middle son would miss his wrestling meet to take care of the youngest son. Wow. They worked as a group to ensure the youngest had care. They had all of the balls in motion and kept them working together in a straight line to pick up that last ball. Impressive. Their actions helped me keep my energy focused on the marketplace. I was not the middle ball being hit on both sides. Motion did not stop.

So, like the circle, sometimes you are a single force swinging in one direction and then back again. However, when there are partnerships in play and energy is shared, like in Newton’s Cradle, the outcome is mesmerizing.

Kim Grzywacz

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