Strive For Work-Life Integration, Not Balance

March 17, 2012 at 6:16 am Leave a comment


Stop trying to balance the mythical scales so that work and family demands and rewards are exactly even. Instead, take these steps to integrate the two for greater happiness and control.

Late one night I pulled out of the parking garage at the small airport near my home. There were no cars behind me as I handed my ticket over to the lady in the booth, so I asked if she ever felt trapped in the tiny enclosure. “Never,” she answered. “I’m a writer, and it’s only busy here when a flight comes in. The rest of the time I work on my book.” Her book? She volunteered that she is working on a novel based on characters she has created from the parking lot customers she meets.  Sure enough, there was a laptop propped up on the tiny counter next to her.

This stuck with me for a couple reasons. First, I hope one of her characters is not a tired-looking, middle-aged guy in an old Ford Explorer. Second, her situation reminded me of aself-assessment tool we have co-developed at the Center for Creative Leadership to help people cope with the challenge of work-life integration. (See my last column to see why I believe the idea of work-life balance is a sham.).

Our goal is to help managers and leaders stop trying to balance the mythical scales so that work and family demands and rewards are exactly even. Rather, we try to help them understand this: Accurately assessing the nature of their own personalities, their sense of self-identity, and the degree of control they have over their work and family lives is crucial to finding satisfaction. Balance is not the goal. Integration is.

A snapshot of this concept could be applied to the lady in the ticket booth, whom I later learned is named Kate.


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Entry filed under: General, Outside Contributors.

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