“Work-life balance” is a running theme in this hectic world, but also an elusive goal. The phrase is plastered everywhere as people aspire to achieve ideal harmony between family life and professional career.
The demands of both, however, make it difficult to pull off, especially for anyone in a leadership position – and maybe there’s a good reason for that.
“Balance is bull—-,” says Sue Hawkes, a leadership expert and author of Chasing Perfection- Shatter the Illusion; Minimize Self-Doubt & Maximize Success. “A perfect work-life balance is not possible for those in leadership positions. It’s more useful to strive for work-life integration, where you not only bring your work home, but also bring your home to work. “
In debunking the balance theme, Hawkes gives three tips for leaders to help them accept and maximize an imbalanced schedule:
- Stop and breathe. Balance is an illusion in our external lives, Hawkes says, but it can be created internally as a mechanism that gives busy people the ability to cope better with challenges. This emotional equilibrium is a measured thought choice that gives us more control of our responses to situations. “When I catch myself reacting,” Hawkes says, “I stop and ask, ‘What am I telling myself? Is it true or head trash?’ This helps me unravel what’s factual from a kneejerk emotional response based in fear. I stop and breathe until I find my internal balance again.”
- Learn to say no. Many people have difficulty saying no, and many who do say no are consumed by guilt, Hawkes says. Saying yes before fully analyzing the commitment can lead to being over-committed and overwhelmed, so it’s a matter of prioritizing what you say yes and no to. “Every time you say yes to something, you’re also saying yes to much more,” Hawkes says. “Tell them you’ll consider, but first sit down with a pad and pencil and list all those additional things you’re taking on by saying yes. Finding balance is a matter of saying yes and no to what fulfills you and your life without overcommitting.”
- Don’t be afraid to follow. When we’re over-committed and feeling imbalanced, we have to take a hard look at what’s ahead and stop doing things that aren’t working. A leader empowers others by giving them space to lead or take a larger role, thus lightening the leader’s load. “You can’t always make things happen, and you can’t do it all,” Hawkes says. “At times you have to let go and let others take the lead.”
“There will never be a 50-50 balance,” Hawkes says, “but you are still able to fit in all of the things that are important to you by slowing down, choosing what to say yes and no to and accepting help.”
About Sue Hawkes
Sue Hawkes (www.suehawkes.com) is a bestselling author, keynote speaker, Certified EOS Implementer, Certified Business Coach, WPO Chapter Chair, and globally recognized, award-winning seminar leader. Chasing Perfection: Shatter the Illusion, Minimize Self-Doubt & Maximize Success is her fourth book. She is CEO of YESS! and has designed and delivered dynamic, transformational programs for thousands of people. Sue has received numerous awards including the Dream Keeper award recognized by the Governor’s Council for her leadership program, the Regional U.S. Small Business Administration Women in Business Champion of the Year award, the Exemplary Woman of the Community award, and WomenVenture’s Unsung Hero award.