Work-Life Balance – Juggling Glass and Rubber Balls

A range of many years in the past, Bryan Dyson, then the President and CEO of Coca-Cola Enterprises, sent a commencement speech at Georgia Tech. In it, he talked about the difference in between glass and rubber balls. His perception is as useful right now as it was then.

“Think about lifetime as a sport in which you are juggling some five balls in the air. You name them – get the job done, family members, overall health, close friends and spirit – and you’re retaining all of these in the air. You will shortly realize that perform is a rubber ball. If you fall it, it will bounce back. But the other four balls – family members, wellness, close friends and spirit – are created of glass. If you fall just one of these, they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, weakened or even shattered. They will in no way be the very same. You ought to fully grasp that and strive for equilibrium in your lifetime.”

I adore that Dyson singles out what is most crucial in lifestyle. There are indeed priorities, and several would disagree in excess of the relevance of loved ones, well being, buddies, and spirit. It is the get the job done topic and this situation of “equilibrium” that offers me and several other executives and gurus trigger to pause.

    • Equilibrium is relative to the particular person. My allocation of time at my vocation may well seem to be extreme to you, but it will work for me and in my head, I am in equilibrium.
    • The implication that get the job done is terrible or less than excellent is troubling. Our do the job is quite own. If you are involved in perform that you adore, as the old adage goes, it by no means feels like function.
    • Achieving a universally agreeable definition in a organization around the theme of “work-daily life” stability is singularly 1 of the most complicated jobs I have encountered in my expert life.

What Exactly is Perform-Existence Harmony?

A brief time ago, I was concerned in serving to an group formally articulate main values. There had been unspoken values just as there are in each and every corporation. On the other hand, prompted by development and issue about codifying the culture and aspirational behaviors for all existing and foreseeable future staff, the values initiative was recognized.

Just after personnel meetings and enough chances for input, a established of values statements have been crafted and presented to the personnel for evaluation and revision. The proposed closing established came back with one of the worth statements looking through: “We help work-lifestyle balance.” And then the initiative floor to a halt.

There was no settlement on what that assertion truly meant and what it looked like in practice. As stated earlier mentioned, every particular person interpreted the topic of stability via their have filters. For some, balance intended unencumbered versatility to arrive and go. For other individuals, it meant never ever examining e mail on the weekend. And for these who certainly savored their extended days and months, it felt like a slap in the deal with. The company experienced a conundrum on its arms, and it was not right until a resourceful worker prompt a just one-word change that the challenge was solved.

The True Difficulty Is Perform-Life Overall flexibility

The proposal was to change the phrase “harmony” to “flexibility.” The new statement would read: “We support perform-life flexibility.” When a case can be designed for the ambiguous character of the phrase, “overall flexibility,” some extra context aided immeasurably.

Overall flexibility was explained as the ability to modify operate hours to life’s wants, which include relatives and recreation, as very long as the function was included and no a person was deprived.

If you were dedicated to coaching your daughter’s soccer group on Tuesday afternoons after 3:00 p.m., you merely had to prepare your function and assembly agenda to accommodate your coaching demands. A sequence of related style illustrations were being identified and the administration staff and personnel accepted the modify and moved ahead.

While we do not all have the luxury of doing work in an enlightened ambiance in which the employees determine the values and the concerns of do the job-life and own daily life are aspect of those people values, you have to outline your individual priorities and strive for the equilibrium that is acceptable for you.

Certainly, the Rubber Ball Is Important

Again to Dyson’s rubber ball metaphor for work. We devote a fantastic offer of our time involved in working in our lives. It is not something we really should drop easily, and specified the modify and uncertainty in the planet these days, it does not often bounce back again. We are effectively-served to glance at function as very well as the other features of our everyday living as something vital and deserving of preserving.

Beware Extremes and Regard All of Life’s Priorities 

It is not unheard of for men and women to get their jobs so significantly that their personal personal identities turn into wrapped up in their titles and electric power. If and when something gets rid of that title and electrical power: a merger or a downsizing, the influence is crushing for anybody who described by themselves as their get the job done persona. This extreme is harmful and jeopardizes your potential to safe and defend any of Dyson’s lifetime priorities or glass balls.

The Bottom Line

What I really like about Dyson’s concept is that it does single out people vital attributes in our existence: spouse and children, spirit, health and fitness, mates, and function. Take care of all of them with the care and regard they deserve. Address them like delicate glass balls and concentration on accomplishing a point out of thoughts and activity in which they all sense ideal and correct. You can phone it a stability if you will, but try to get there.

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