The Powerful Secret To Work-Life Balance (It’s Not What You Think)

Everyone one of us battles with the issue.

How many times during a day or week do you ask yourself whether you have balance? If you are a founder in your startup or a key executive in a business, I would guess that this is a daily experience. Every single person I know in business struggles with the line between work and life. Every one searches for that one trick.

And it only gets harder as we add a family to the mix. I spent the bulk of my business life in my late 30’s sitting on an airplane making twice-monthly trips to the west coast from Chicago. I still remember the Sunday afternoon I was pulling out of my driveway headed to the airport while my crying 4-year-old son begged me not to go. Let that one settle in for a second. It was the last time I left on a Sunday for a business trip until he was a teenager (where he then begged again but this time for me to go).

Balance is the even distribution of different elements in typically equal or correct proportions. So our thoughts are that work-life balance has to be equally distributed? Therein lies the rub.

You see, most of us view this conundrum as a continuum where we have to draw a hard line in terms of balancing these seemingly opposite point of views. But deep down we all know that it is not that simple – or we would have mastered it a long time ago. At its core, this is not a simple problem that begs for a simple (one dimension) solution.

My good friend Brad Feld used a phrase a few weeks ago and like those precious little pearls that seem to find you when you need it most, he altered the way I think about the struggle between work and life.

Work-Life Harmony not Work-Life Balance is a much better way to examine and gain comfort from the challenge of work vs. life.

Harmony delivers for us a completely alternative approach that recognizes the depth of the question we ask ourselves. The definition of harmony is literally agreement. Synonyms include peace, friendship, cooperation, unity and understanding. Can you feel the difference between balance and harmony?

It is not OK to ignore life in the pursuit of work. This decision will have implications at some point. I encourage you to embrace both in the proportions that you are satisfied with on a daily basis.

As a founder, key executive or even a type A, high-achieving college student, we can draw comfort from the idea that some days work wins and some days life wins and in this multi-dimensional, complex world we live in, the best we can do is find harmony in our management of ourselves and those daily decisions.

This article first appeared in INC.COM – find more of my articles there.

Speaker, investor, mentor, startup founder. One of 3 or 4 Co-Founders of MapQuest (sold to AOL for $1.2B). Managing Director of $25M Venture Fund in late 90's. CEO, COO or President of various companies ranging from $200k to $20M in size. One of two Managing Directors of The Startup Factory (35 investments across 7 cohorts), founder and MC of the Big Top Reverse Job Fair and national writer and speaker waxing poetic around startups and startup communities. Currently EIR @ Techstars with Brad Feld ~ Startup Communities, to help community leaders around the world grow their startup community.

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