Deeply rooted in the minds of most is a belief that work is something that has to be hard … that one can’t succeed without suffering first … and that it is something other than “living." This mindset is a graveyard for people’s creativity, joyfulness, passion and energy in business.
Why not look at work as an integrated part of life that can fulfill, making it worth the limited time one has on Earth, not just when rewards and successes come from it, but during each present moment in between? If this sounds impossible with one’s work, the opportunity cost of living their current lifestyle may be higher than necessary.
Why is taking a critical look at how you spend or invest your lifetime important in this business setting?
By deciding to aim at making a significant global impact with your organization, contributing to improving or prolonging living conditions on Earth, you set yourself up for the challenge of not always knowing whether the quest will be worth your time or not. The greatest tragedy, however, will not be that humanity’s timeline might end. It’s that the moments we have had were not fully lived.
The concept of work-life balance is, sadly, very popular. This approach to life is misleading already in its name. If one truly lives only in the “life” part, then what is one doing in the “work” part? Dying? Drawing this artificial line in the sand makes people prone to resent working, and to see their job as their prison.
In the work-life balance model, life is where one is free to truly live their best moments, take worry-free vacations, enjoy hobbies and fill their soul with passion projects. “Life” ends when money runs out … and then it’s back to “work." During such a steep fall from heaven, one creates the negative attitude of seeing work as forced labor, and their colleagues as antagonists. When one writes off their time spent serving an organization as a necessity for going back to “life," they block the possibility of living their best moments during work, too. Thus, the illusion is difficult to break.
Leaders, especially senior management, are in a position to break the work-life illusion (firstly for themselves and later for all employees). Of all the people within an organization, leaders know best that there is no point in pretending it’s possible to find an escape in “life” when things in “work” go wrong. Neither “life” nor “work” are ever going away, nor are they meant to. This realization puts one in a powerful position where one is able to grant oneself the permission to design their experience of work, family, hobbies and all other facets of life in such a way that one’s time spent in each role is lived fully.
The many areas of life where people live, act, create, and co-create are vastly different playgrounds with unique, unwritten rules and definitions of “success." These areas can be understood as ‘‘life roles.’’
One is not fully aware of their life roles when they are functioning well. Usually, life roles are noticed when one of them gets stuck, becoming too high-maintenance or painful. Even then, awareness is mostly oriented only to the role that represents a challenge in that particular moment.
However, understanding the mechanics of all life roles as a single, connected wheel of life can help anticipate issues and thus prevent imbalancing challenges. Life roles are the principal solution to restoring a balanced lifestyle that ultimately secures time and space for one to express their true, full, natural potential.
Just as money earned in the role of a businessperson provides financial energy to one’s activities throughout all other life roles, other life roles support and provide different kinds of energy to all other life roles. A person who reinforces brotherly care, maternal support, a spouse’s patience, athletic dedication, a painter’s attention to detail, etc., can channel all these energies and more into drive, passion, compassion and stamina in their role in business. Seeing the energy inputs and outputs coming into and from one’s life roles reveals a picture of the dynamics of total life energy, available to use for the creation of anything.
Optimal energy in/out flux is created by consciously centering one’s life around purpose and consciously assigning life roles to best support its fulfillment as one moves throughout life. This centered alignment of one’s physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs and their fulfillment is referred to as “being in the pillar”. (footnote: The state of “Being in the pillar” was introduced in the chapter on Energy Economics). The amount of energy someone has available in their energy pillar is therefore the maximum amount of energy that can be doled out to particular life roles.
Life roles that one doesn't respect, take care of, or keep a clear manifestation for, drain one’s energy at the back of their mind. Neglected life roles can easily escalate into urgent crises whose weight shocks one’s rhythm of life to the point where their central energy processor, i.e., their pillar, tilts.
Once one’s pillar is imbalanced, collapsed or compromised (known as being “out of the pillar”), one can no longer ACT from one’s whole self. Instead, one REACTS to the chain of events raining down from all life roles, often triggered by one’s unconscious patterns. When someone is out of the pillar, they might act and communicate in a way that they consciously don’t want to.
Preventing lifestyle imbalance requires keeping a conscious awareness of one’s life roles while being immersed in one at a time (although there are simultaneous happenings on all fronts, 24/7). Thus, when problem-solving is required, or an opportunity arises to create progress in any of the roles, one becomes able to intentionally put oneself into a certain role. From that role, one can draw additional “outside-the-box” support, information or feelings that help preserve one’s total life energy – one’s energy pillar.
Consciously setting, stepping into, and switching between life roles brings clarity, deeper authenticity, and pure moments of enjoyment. Unconscious life roles can lead to messy multitasking or distant-mindedness that cause dissatisfaction with one’s real life, hurt relationships or ultimately result in burnout.
Ambitiously and consciously filling one’s life with purposeful roles can become the cause of insecurity and anxiety. Overthinking the importance of one’s purpose, or the vastness of one’s potential, can put one’s future in a prison of expectations, responsibility, and over-bookings. This prison entraps one’s inner child–their greatest ally for adventures of curiosity and creativity.
Leaders who value the presence of their own inner child at work can also enable creative time for their team members. Releasing the “make it or break it” pressure from people’s chests is often enough for their inner child to emerge with a creative solution. The best creative gold can’t be mined by force or scheduled to shine at exactly 9AM, when a meeting starts.
Bringing one’s inner child to work in a healthy way – where the inner child gives it its best without needing to prove itself to anyone – transforms burdensome work into a joyful realization of one’s purest desires. The more team members understand this, the less pressure they impose on each other – and the more fun they can have together – because each person contributes their genuine best.