The psychosynthesis of work and life
“The starting point is curiosity: pondering why the default exists in the first place.” – Adam Grant, Originals
When the war stories told in the workplace are primarily about what people have sacrificed for the company, there is an assumption presented: “In order to be valued here, you need to be willing to let work take over.” Beneath that, there is another assumption: “Work and life are separate things.”
If what we do outside of ‘work’ has value to us as human beings then it surely has value in the workplace as well. Work has far more to do with who we are than what we do. Someone who has spent the weekend with their family can bring something to work on a Monday morning that someone who has worked a 7-day week cannot. If we cannot see this, we will continue to endorse or live crippled by a culture that has poor mental health. Which is hardly the best thing for business.
Standing up for what matters
“You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage – pleasantly, smilingly, non-apologetically – to say no to other things and the way to do that is by having a bigger yes burning inside.” – Stephen Covey
Your core values do not have to be separated into ‘work values’ and ‘life values’ that are forever competing with one another. You are hopefully the same person whether you are at work or at home, so it makes sense to compile them into one list. Give them a hierarchy according to what genuinely matters to you, not what you feel they ‘should be’. Of course, the hard part is living by them, especially when there might be consequences or misjudgement on the part of others.
Opening up the conversation
“Success is not the result of spontaneous combustion. You must set yourself on fire.” – Arnold H Glasgow
It is risky to live according to your core values. If you wait until it is safe to do so, you never will. While we can hope systematic change happens externally, some things won’t change until you speak up. If your mental health is suffering, if your family feels like a distant part of who you are, if you are not living fully as yourself – then it is a concern that should be voiced in the workplace. At least, it is if those things matter to you. Compartmentalising our life as ‘other’ to our work can cause us to think that we are the problem – and never address any problems in the system.
It is possible (or probable) that others are feeling the same way. And even if no-one gets it, at least you said it. You lived according to your core values and that is success even if it goes unrecognised. Ultimately, good leaders are those who influence others by living according to their core values.
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