Making the Impossible Possible
When Anne-Marie Slaughter’s article “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All” went viral in 2012, we immediately recognized adding “men and women” to each of her 5 mandates summarized ThirdPath’s mission. These mandates are also at the root of making “the impossible possible” – supporting a new appraoch to careers and family that doesn’t force people to choose between the two.
This year we have been exploring each mandate on our Thursdays with ThirdPath webinars. We also added a sixth mandate – Men and Women Creating Win-Win Boundaries. Check out our May and June webinars. They demonstrate how this is also a key ingredient for supporting men and women to share things at home.
She also argues, “It’s time for CEO’s, supervisors, and team leaders to assume that the experience of caregiving… helps people become more efficient, and develop knowledge, patience, adaptability to different rhythms, honesty, courage, trust, humility, and hope.”
To learn more about her revolutionary vision, listen to our YouTube recording of the Thursdays with ThirdPath webinar with her.
We’ve also included a recap of the mandates below. Reading them, you’ll quickly see why putting these mandates into action helps make the impossible possible.
Anne-Marie Slaughter’s Mandates for Change:
Redefining Work, Careers and Family
Men and Women Changing the Culture of Face Time – This is at the root of ThirdPath’s work; encouraging men and women – at any point in their careers – to look for the unique flexibility in their jobs. Not every job can be flexed in the same way, but there is a flexible solution for every job.
NEW – Men and Women Creating Win-Win Boundaries – Following an integrated approach to work and life means learning how to set win-win boundaries, otherwise flex becomes working days, nights, weekends and vacations. However, doing this requires making choices – both at work and at home – so we have the time and energy we need for what’s most important.
Men and Women Redefining the Arc of a Successful Career – This is at the core of our work with ThirdPath’s Pioneering Leaders – the male and female senior leaders we work with who all “walk the talk.” Whether on our bi-monthly leadership calls, or at our Pioneering Leaders Summit, together we are exploring the opportunities and barriers of creating workplaces that support an integrated approach from entry level to executive level.
Men and Women Revaluing Family Values – That’s what we’ve been doing since launching ThirdPath, including our ground breaking work supporting Shared Care families. We help both mothers and fathers redesign work (and careers!) so they can stay actively involved in the joys and responsibilities of caring for children. We’ve also learned this approach is key to balancing work and elder care.
Men and Women Rediscovering the Pursuit of Happiness – Whether it is the joy of an amazing vacation, making the most of summers, becoming an active volunteer, or a hobby enthusiast, this mandate gets right at the heart of our work. Most importantly – following a “third path” can continue all the way through phasing into retirement.
Men and Women Becoming an Innovation Nation – Lotte Bailyn discovered this in her pioneering work around the “dual agenda” where she designed solutions that were good for business and employees’ personal lives. Over and again, our amazing ThirdPath community has taught us, when you encourage employees to prioritize work alongside life – men and women, parents, single persons and grandparents – they will also find a way to improve how they work.
Listen to this year’s Thursdays with ThirdPath webinars – each episode will show you how to put these ideas into action.
Our join one of our Overwhelm Mitigation Groups. Let us help you learn how to set win-win boundaries at work, so you can have more time and energy for life.
Whole Life Leaders are Transforming Organizations
The following is excerpted from the article Transformative Flex, by Jessica DeGroot and Jodi Detjen. The photos on the right are from ThirdPath’s biennial Pioneering Leaders Summit including our Pioneering Leader award winners.
Leaders who follow an integrated approach to work and life are changing a few fundamental assumptions…
First, they discard the outdated notion that a work-first approach is essential to business and the only route to success. Then they reframe this binary assumption into one that recognizes work matters AND life matters. They also learn how to create success in both areas by creating a team at home and a team at work.
Most importantly, when couples jointly follow this approach, they both learn how to push back at out dated norms as they support each other to achieve an integrated solution over the course of their careers.
To Be a Whole Life Leader – Work matters, and so does life
When couples both strive to be Whole Life Leaders, work matters and so do their lives outside of work. Both parents become experts in learning how to set thoughtful limits on how much work they can take on. We call this win-win boundary setting. Both parents also find ways to use flex to as a tool to help them do an excellent job at work, be responsive to the needs of colleagues and clients, and keep their eyes focused on their lives, not just their careers. The core of their solution is a “triple win”.(See definitions on the right.)
Whole Life Leaders become experts in flexibility AND capacity management
Flexibility defines where and when someone works. Capacity management relates to how much work is expected to be done individually, as a team and within the organization.
Flexibility requires agility, and the ability to think outside the box when faced with competing goals. Capacity management requires innovation in how the work itself gets done such as prioritization, expectation management, and strategic delegation. In fact, success in these two dimensions requires a set of 21st century skills that are valuable for everyone who works in today’s 24/7 business environment.
These leaders are changing the rules of the game
Professionals who develop these skills, who are then promoted to managers, begin to spread the skills to their teams. Instead of pre-defining where, when, and how much work gets done, these leaders work with their teams to determine the best way to achieve the desired success.
Managers who follow this approach get out of the business of micro-managing unnecessary details about how work gets done, and into the business of managing effectiveness. It’s also clear, ThirdPath’s progressive community of Whole Life Leaders have become role models of a new kind of leadership.
A FEW DEFINITIONS …
This happens in the moment – something that one physically “feels” as in “I feel out of balance”
This happens in the long run – this happens in the long run – it’s how you create multi-faceted lives, with paid work happening alongside other commitments
Work First Work Cultures:
In these organizations, life needs are always subservient to work and career priorities
Triple Win Solutions:
Flexing so it’s good for the work you do, the people you work with, and good for you
Win-Win Boundary Setting:
Working together to set thoughtful
limits around how much work we take
on so we can do our best AND our organizations thrive
Want to learn more about ThirdPath’s progressive community of Whole Life Leaders? Let us mail you DeGroot & Detjen’s article: Transformative Flex. Send your mailing address to: Time4Life(at)ThirdPath.org
Together We Can Change the World!
We are just back from the 8th annual Dad 2.0 Summit – and we are charged up to make change! Did you know that Dove Men+Care is pledging $1 million over the next 2 years to help dads afford to take paternity leave? Why is this so important? Getting dads involved right from the start helps all of us manage work and family responsibilities better – and not just during the diapering stage!
Take a look at the inspiring videos on the right, then read the great example of what we’re talking about – it’s a story from one of the bloggers spotlighted at the Dad 2.0 Summit … Then help us push for more change TODAY by taking the
Dove Men+Care Pledge for Paternity Leave and by sharing this link with everyone you know.
The Chaos Theory of Parenting – by Cort Ruddy
Our typical morning routine is goes like this: Child 1 ostensibly gets up at 6:15 a.m., to be on the bus at 6:52. Children 2 and 3 rise from their slumber when child 1 departs, and they get on their bus at 7:40. That’s when child 4 awakes, his bus arriving at 8:12, which he dutifully boards.
I call this predictable structure the Ordered Family model. And it works well on paper. In reality, it rarely occurs. Here’s a sample of our reality through the lens of one particular day last week when my wife just happened to be away on business.
The alarm went off at 6:15 a.m. as planned. Our oldest child didn’t move, however. Unplanned. Then it went off again. And again. When she did finally move, she announced she needed a shower because “it had been a few days.”
Long story short: she missed the bus. So, of course, I had to drive her. I woke the two younger ones, who are just barely old enough to be left home alone, and ordered them to get ready as I took the eldest to the High School.
When I got back, the house was still standing and everyone was alive, but nobody was ready for the middle school bus, now just moments way. So, I quickly threw together their lunches, prodded them to brush their teeth and get dressed, and then I watched as the bus pulled away while they sat at our counter nonchalantly eating breakfast. Bus missed.
To take them to school, I had to wake the boy, as he cannot be left alone for everybody’s sake. Once his sisters were deposited at middle school. We went back home to get him out of his PJs and ready for his bus, which he missed. So, it was back in the car and to the third school of the day to drop off yet another child.
By the time I got home, I had exactly zero minutes to get showered, dressed and off to work. Needless to say, I was late. Like, really late.
That’s when it occurred to me the similarities between math’s Chaos Theory and the way my wife and I are as parents: the Chaos Theory of Parenting.
In mathematics, Chaos theory is used to describe dynamic systems where minor variations in initial variables can cause wildly different outcomes.
I find it easier to understand Chaos Theory by thinking about the game Plinko on the Price Is Right. That’s the one where the lucky contestant drops a round chip down the Plinko board and it bounces around rather unpredictably until it reaches the bottom.
The difference is that in Plinko there are only five possible outcomes. While in life, and in parenting, there are infinite. Kid 3 could miss the bus. Kid 2 could leave without gloves and have to stay in for recess. Kid 4 could forget his homework, and his parents could get a call from the teacher. Dad could be late so often that he gets fired, and the whole family could have to move to another state. Anything could happen. All based on Kid 1 sleeping through her alarm and a host of other initial variables.
You could be observing us on what seems like an otherwise quiet evening when an unexpected (but predictable) variable occurs, like someone yelling, “Oh My God! We forgot soccer practice!”
And then we suddenly find ourselves scrambling to get our tween to her indoor soccer practice, and the whole plan for dinner is out the window and half our kids are crying because they’re hungry and haven’t started their homework. All because one of us had to run to the store after work to get an ingredient for the dinner we now aren’t making and, in the frenzy, simply forgot it was a practice day.
Clearly, I have only a rudimentary understanding of the real Chaos Theory, however I’ve found that with proper use of vagueness and big words, anyone can sound like they’re an expert on theoretical mathematics.
Parenting, on the other hand, is not quite so easy.
Cort Ruddy is a writer, working and raising four kids with his wife in upstate New York. His writing has appeared in Adirondack Life and Central New York Magazine, and can be found online at RuddyBits.com. He’s on Twitter @DadBits.
Check out our free resources so you can have more fun and less stress. We’ve even included the free CJ case study describing how a dad changed his schedule to a four day work week.
Top 5 barriers for fathers & family –
#5 Increased financial risk unless you are willing to put work first
#4 Outdated gender norms – both at work and home
#3 Outdated work norms – such as long work hours and face time
#2 Lack of progressive public policy
#1 Men’s invisibility and poor representation of fathers in the media
Thanks to a group of pioneering men (and pioneering organizations like City Dads Group … Dad 2.0 Summit … National at Home Dad Network … Boston College Center on Work and Family … and of course ThirdPath Institute!) – there is growing momentum to push back at these barriers.
Below are the stories of some of the dads involved with this change. To the right (clockwise) are their photos. Want to learn more about what these amazing dads are doing to write a new narrative around fatherhood? Listen to the SoundClound recording and learn how men are as eager as women to create a “new normal” where we have time to be successful at work AND actively involved in the care of our families.
Scott Behson – Scott and his wife have Shared Care since their son was born, each parent increasing their role at home as they flexed around the others work schedule. Scott’s fatherhood blog lead him to write the must read book – Working Dads Survival Guide.
Kipp Jarecke-Cheng – Kipp works full time and is the primary flexer around the care of his children. Kipp and his partner get additional support from their nanny. We met Kipp at one of the Dad 2.0 Summits and quickly invited him to join ThirdPath’s board. Kipp showed us how these issues are both “about gender, and not about gender.”
Lester Spence – Lester and his wife are raising 5 children. Although he works full time while she stays home, he’s also actively involved in the family – from braiding hair to baking bread. As a political science professor, Lester understands, “This is a political issue. If involved fathers are stigmatized, over the generations this stigma will go away, and that’s worth fighting for.”
Read more …
Brad Harrington – Brad worked while his wife cared for the children when they were young. Now that they are older, both parents flex work and Share Care. Brad runs the Boston College Center for Work and Family. He has also published multiple studies on the changing role of fathers.
Christopher Persley – Christopher dialed his career back so he could be the primary caregiver when their daughter was young. Now he’s added teaching back into the mix. Christopher is a member of NYC Dads Group.
Chris Bernholdt – Chris and his wife decided what made most sense for their family was to have Chris become the primary parent at home while his wife continued to advance in her career. Chris is a board member of the National at Home Dad Network and co-organizer of Philadelphia City Dads.
Tell us how you flexed your work by tweeting it at #MenWomenFlex.
Fifteen Months of Chronic Overwork, and One More to Go
The last 15 months have been challenging, not just because of some unexpected life events (learn more), but also because our organization is growing. Growth is a good thing. But the trick is figuring out how to have growth happen at a capacity we can manage.
At ThirdPath we very purposefully build in slower periods of work in order to give us time to make the necessary changes to better manage when things are extra busy. Overwork is never easy, but there can be a silver lining. I now have a better understanding of what it feels like – and how I start behaving – when I’m chronically overworked. I also know that too many professionals in today’s 24/7 business environment are chronically overworked.
Read more …
I like to tell people to think of their capacity for work as a glass of water. Is your glass filled to the brim? Overflowing? Or do you have a little wiggle room at the top of the glass?
When managing my capacity for work, I’ve learned to very intentionally plan around busier and less busy periods of work – or continuing with the glass analogy – to plan for the times when my glass is filled to the brim and when I have a little extra room at the top. If I’ve done a good job preparing for a busy period, I have created extra support and good personal habits to handle this peak period more effectively.
During slower periods, I use the “extra room” in my glass to make changes that will improve how I work going forward.
- I systematize processes
- re-prioritize tasks
- decide what to delegate so that I have more time for what I am uniquely qualified to do
It turns out working this way isn’t just good for you, it’s also good for your organization. It means you are better able to manage the unexpected – both at work and outside of work. It also means I come to work more refreshed, and better able to keep my perspective about what’s really an emergency and what’s really most important. However, I could tell living with this on-going level of stress wasn’t good for me.
When constantly in a state of overwork I began to notice how smaller things pushed me off balance very easily.
I was quick to lose my perspective. I even caught myself working less efficiently, and even making some mistakes. For example, my husband and I planned a long weekend away to celebrate my birthday. I pride myself in my ability to turn off work while on vacation, and I was able to do this during this trip as well. But even with this break, when I got back to work, I was shocked to see how quickly I returned to the same stressed perspective I had before vacation. Once again there was a task that needed to get done that was going to require more time than I had available. And just like before vacation, it pushed me immediately into a stressed response, instead of being able to step back and imagine a more creative solution.
The truth is with so many months of stress behind me and a few more to go, I shouldn’t be surprised that I’m still behaving this way. I didn’t do anything wrong. Growth is good. Life happens. But I also have to admit that during the last 15 months, sometimes I have traveled to a bit of a dark place. A place where I start losing hope, and believing things will never change.
Luckily I have developed and maintained a number of good habits to regain my normally optimistic outlook.
- I exercise regularly
- My husband cooks amazing healthy dinners for our family
- I carve out routine times during my work week without calls or meetings so I can get focused work done
- And all year long I relied on my staff to help me keep focused on my top priority work
- When I get overloaded, I also try to remember to stop and take a walk, or to call a friend, or to do both. This helps remind me that it is probably the chronic overwork that is causing me to see things worse than they are.
Did you make a resolution to push back at overwork and create more time for life? Let us help you.
Check out our free resources, including our “Key Integration Practices” handout.
Every few months we feature the pioneers who are part of the ThirdPath community.
John de Graaf – Founder, Take Back Your Time
John believes …
Using our time, not just for both productive work, but also for enjoyment in life, is pivotal if we want to improve our overall quality of life.
It’s about improving our health and the communities we live in …
John started the call by describing his work fighting for paid parental leave, sick leave, and vacation time. As he pointed out, without the opportunity for vacations, the likelihood of heart attacks and depression increases for both men and women. And when workers can’t afford to take time off, including to care for their own health, research shows they come to work sick, stay sick longer, and spread illness to coworkers.
John went on to describe some of the important work he’s done around mandatory paid vacation time. John even drafted and proposed a paid vacation act, which would offer 1 to 2 weeks of guaranteed paid vacation time depending on the size of the organization. Though the US is one of only five countries not offering paid vacation time, many were still rigorously against this proposed bill.
Read more …
What can we learn from success stories?
During our conversation, John provided a perfect example of people embodying the “whole life” mentality John believes in. In Bhutan, a small country settled into the hills of the Himalayas, instead of just prioritizing the importance of gross national product, this small progressive county has been focusing on increasing gross national happiness.
In service of this goal, Bhutan has created an index for looking at 9 dimensions of life that lead to sustainable happiness, one of which is time balance. John then provided a number of inspiring details of how he ended up working with the people of Bhutan as they drafted a proposal on a happiness index for the UN.
And what did we fail to learn …
John also shared a powerful story about the Kellogg corporation. In 1930, Kellogg allowed one location of its workers to change to 6-hours shifts, 5 days a week. Within two years of this shift, the company discovered it produced the same amount of cereal in the 6 hour shifts, as it had during the 8 hour shifts.
However, in 1985, because of the high cost of benefits, these workers were forced to return to an 8-hour workday. Around this time, John interviewed a number of the men and women who had been working the shorter schedules to better understand how it had impacted their lives. No surprise, he discovered the shorter work day brought many benefits, including extra time for divvying up housework, enjoying hobbies, and volunteering.
Clearly our conversation with John underscores how supporting people to have time and energy for their lives outside of work leads to happier and healthier individuals and communities.
Keep up the great work John! And thank you, for being such a long-term advocate for this important cause!
We Can Start the Revolution At Home
All year long our Thursdays with ThirdPath webinars are exploring the “courageous conversations” we need to have – at work and home – to follow an integrated approach to work and life.
Read more …
Let Go of the Score Sheet …
When the give and take feels unfair within a relationship, couples often start keeping score of the growing injustices.
To break the negative cycle and reconnect in a more positive way, Dr B. Hibbs, author of Try To See It My Way, guides couples through four steps.
Step one – Recognize when an injustice has been done. This can be difficult and it may even feel like you are putting your relationship at risk. It also means opening yourself up to the role you have played in the situation – although this injustice may not be 50-50, none are 0-100.
Step two – Acknowledge the harmful consequences of the situation – and do this in a way that shows true remorse, compassion and helps each of you hold yourselves personally accountable.
Step three – Identify actions that can help restore a sense of fairness – some might be small “everyday changes” (not reading email at dinner and asking about each others’ day), some might be “high-impact changes” (changing jobs or coming to couples therapy).
Step four – By following this process, couples begin to regain trust. And as Dr Hibbs points out, “As your reserves of trust rise, feelings of love and security flow. Your relationship begins an upward, hopeful spiral.”
Reignite the Flame…
Ask Esther Perel what the challenges are for couples in the bedroom, and she’d say it’s our culture’s deep ambivalence around sexuality, and in particular “eroticism in the context of family.”
Ms. Perel’s book includes lots of great advice to counter this message as well as helpful case studies couples can use to rekindle the flames.
For example, she introduces us to Stephanie and Warren, a couple where the father works full time and the mom cares for the children full time. Ms. Perel uses this case study to illustrate how some times, our ambivalence around being parents while also continuing to enjoy our sexuality, may mean the energy once channeled towards the couple, is now channeled only towards the children.
Perel observes, “There are regular playdates for Jake but only three dates a year for Stephanie and Warren: two birthday and one anniversary. There is the latest kids’ fashion for Sophia, but only college sweats for Stephanie. The couple rents twenty G-rated movies for every R-rated movie. And there are languorous hugs for the kids while the grown-ups must survive on a diet of quick pecks.”
To avoid this problem, she reminds couples, “Eroticism in the home requires active engagement and willful intent … We must unpack our ambivalence about pleasure, and challenge our pervasive discomfort with sexuality, particularly in the context of family.”
To learn more, click on the “11/14 Love” SoundCloud icon to hear B. Hibbs talk about her book, Try To See It My Way.
Or click on the “2/12 Sex and Flex” SoundCloud icon to hear two experts discuss how couples can put Esther Perel’s book, Mating In Captivity, into practice.
This year we’ve been looking at “courageous conversations”
All year long our Thursdays with ThirdPath webinars have been exploring the “courageous conversations” we need to have – at work and home – to follow an integrated approach to work and life.
Read more …
Below are some “lessons learned” from our November webinar where we looked at the courageous conversations that help create more flexibility at work.
Michelle started by talking about the flexible schedule she used when her children were young. She described the challenges she had to overcome, but also how she was able to continue with her flexible schedule even as she became a partner at her accounting firm.
Now – as the CFO of Independent Bank – Michelle is making flexibility available for her team.
Amy, one of Michelle’s team members, talked about the positive influence Michelle has had at her workplace.
For example, Amy remembers Michelle saying, “It’s ok to turn your blackberry off over the weekend.” This is something Michelle modeled herself. It also hadn’t been part of Amy’s work culture prior to this point.
Amy also explains how watching Michelle manage her team more flexibly empowered Amy to follow the same approach with the team she is now managing.
Amy and Michelle’s stories illustrate how much “integrated leaders” – professionals who have modeled an integrated approach their entire careers – are making a difference in our workplaces.
It also helps illustrate something ThirdPath learned a long time ago – in order to make change within organizations, you need to follow a 3 pronged approach:
(1) Individuals need to develop good skills.
(2) Teams need to develop solutions that work for everyone.
(3) Leaders need to be advocates for change, and some of the leaders also need to be role models.
Want to learn more?
Listen to the webinar by clicking the YouTube video on the right.
Here’s the PDF of the “courageous conversations at work” summary we created from the webinar.
Or join us next month when we take another look at the courageous conversations we are having to create more satisfying lives.
Every few months we feature the pioneers that make up the ThirdPath community.
This month we are putting a spotlight on the authors of the book, Equally Shared Parenting. Read on to learn how the Vachons created a life that supported equal investment in every aspect of their lives – work, family, and personal interest.
Marc and Amy Vachon
Marc and Amy described how they began their equally shared lifestyle, and how they continue it today with school-aged children and increasing responsibilities at work. We then asked B. Hibbs, who also participated in the call, how she would describe Marc and Amy’s lives. We think she hit the nail on the head when she said they had a true spirit of generosity and a collaborative model where everyone feels satisfied, and each has honestly and openly communicated their wants. B. should know, she is a therapist and author of Try to See It My Way: Being Fair in Love and Marriage.
Listening to Amy and Mark you can quickly see how sharing home responsibilities helps create a better way for each parent to manage their overall workloads.
However, we also learned that people who want to create a “whole life” not only need a team at home, they also need a team at work. For example, Amy and another mom both work 32 hours a week. Together they have created a one-and-one-half job share arrangement and they co-direct their department together. As Amy says, “MaryAnn is my equally sharing partner at work, and Marc is my equally sharing partner at home.”
Read more …
Marc and Amy’s story helps illustrate how healthy boundaries are good for employees and good for employers.
Through trial and error both Marc and Amy were able to determined what needed to be prioritized at work, and think ahead more as they planned for the long term – both at work and at home.
Marc and Amy show us how it’s possible to create a family life where both parents can be supported to live whole lives. One that creates space for equal investment in work, family and personal interests. They would also argue that clear communication, boundary setting, and out of the box thinking were the keys to their success.
Combining work and life goals improves how we work
Yes, it’s true. When you encourage people to think about both their work and life needs at the same time, often they will find more efficient ways to approach their work.This is something Lotte Bailyn taught us even before we launched ThirdPath Institute 15 years ago. And it creates the foundation for all of the work we do.
Later, Leslie Perlow – a mentee of Lotte Bailyn – was able to build on Lotte’s work when she did her innovative research in a highly competitive consulting organization.
Leslie’s sensational book – Sleeping with Your Smart Phone – described what happened when team members were required to take predictable time off (PTO) while working to meet client needs.
Read more …
Below are some of the amazing findings from Leslie’s research.
You can also listen to our exciting Thursday with ThirdPath webinar with her by clicking the soundcloud icon below.
Here’s a list of the many benefits the teams gained from participating in the PTO process …
They addressed problems sooner
– Maybe only 3 answers were necessary not 5
– Maybe they needed to reallocate resources
– Maybe a conversation with the client was required
They reduced travel
It reduced evening and weekend email
They made meetings more effective
– As one participant said: “I now structure case team meetings around core client
issues and can leverage the collective intelligence of the team”
It improved how they scheduled meetings
They invented new ways to share daily progress on projects
It increased flexibility around where work was done
They addressed performance problems early on
The general take away: setting limits on work time increased everyone’s creativity!
Or as Leslie explains it, they addressed the “knowing-doing gap.” People knew there was a problem, and could also come up with ways to address the problem.
It also encouraged “collective experimentation.” Multiple people experimented together, and by doing so they were able to challenge the status quo. They also learned each “micro change” built on the ones before them, unleashing the ability to make changes within the team and ultimately in the organization’s culture.
Want to learn more about how Lotte’s amazing work reshaped the work-family landscape, read an excerpt from a recent article, Lotte Bailyn – Thought Leader, celebrating her important contributions.