The Challenge & Possibility of Integration
Don’t get us wrong – we know it’s challenging – but over the last 19+ years we’ve noticed a new paradigm, both at work and at home, that makes “integrated careers” more possible.
We’ve learned a lot from pioneering people like Amy and Marc Vachon — authors of the wonderful book Equally Shared Parenting — as they moved ahead in their careers while also creating time for their children and relationship to each other.
On the Thursdays with ThirdPath webinar where we featured Amy and Marc, you can find out how they first began their journey and what they’ve discovered as they’ve continue to navigate a path that supports love, family and two careers. Just click the link to the right to hear more!
Amy and Marc are what we call Whole Life Leaders – professionals who have moved ahead in their careers while also creating time and energy for their lives outside of work.
To become Whole Life Leaders, they developed a variety of “integration skills” that let them push back at a world that now lets us work anywhere and all the time. Instead, they looked for ways to become more effective at work so they had time and energy for their lives outside of work. You too can follow the path Amy and Marc Vachon have traveled down, and it all begins by putting into practice the following simple processes:
Key Integration Practices
1 – Create Time to Reflect
Create “pauses” at work. Make the most of slower periods at work to assess what you are doing and develop fresh and creative ways to focus on your most important work. If no slower periods are in sight – gain a fresh perspective from a short vacation, a “no work” weekend, or even just a quick walk outside during your lunch break. As Marc said on our webinar, “The only way to think in new and creative ways, is if we aren’t constantly running around putting out the next fire.”
2 – Make Changes Outside of Work
Develop a clear sense of highly valued non-work activities. Create time for family, friends, volunteer work or projects that feel of equal importance than the work you do. Get help from the people who are close to you to make time for non-work activities. Your spouse, a friend, a family member, or coach can all be resources to help you reach for your goals. This has been a cornerstone to both Amy and Marc’s approach. They wanted to craft a life where they were successful at work, partners in the care of their children, and to continue life interests beyond work and family. It turns out by doing this, they’ve also created a healthier, less harried lifestyle – something they are modeling to their children as well.
3 – Make Changes at Work
Below are some of the tools Whole Life Leaders like Marc and Amy use to help improve their effectiveness at work. The beauty of these skills is that they are also very teachable, and we’ve got ways to help you start learning them right now.
- Reduce email overwhelm. Adopt better habits around reviewing, managing and responding to emails.
- Create quiet time. Block off routine time in your calendar for quiet, focused, thinking work.
- Plan around the “seasons” of your work. Discover ways – at work and home – to better manage peak periods of work.
- Improve delegation. Delegate to junior employees as an opportunity for them, and as a way to create more time for you.
4 – Experiment, Learn, Repeat
Maintain an experimental approach! Remember, changes may need to happen both at work and at home. As Amy and Marc progressed in their careers and moved into positions where they began to manage others, you can imagine they had to learn a few things along the way. Whether it was Amy creating a job-sharing leadership position, or Marc’s conversation with his boss to collectively combat overwork and overwhelm, both would agree, the journey has been very worthwhile.
Want to learn how to develop these integration practices so you have time for work, love and play? Join our OMG! – Overwhelm Mitigation Group – starting this spring.
Email us at: Time4Life(at)ThirdPath.org. Put “OMG!” in the subject heading and we’ll send you more information.
Whole Life Leaders are Transforming Organizations
Leaders who follow an integrated approach to work and life change the way they live their lives by shifting some fundamental assumptions.
Excerpted from: Transformative Flex, by Jessica DeGroot and Jodi Detjen
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 – even in work-first workplaces – as they support each other to achieve an integrated solution over the course of their careers.
ThirdPath is Growing a Community of Whole Life Leaders
ThirdPath Institute has been growing a community of Whole Life Leaders since our first Pioneering Leaders Summit in 2011. The above photos are from our 2017 Pioneering Leader Summit including our Pioneering Leader award winners.
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.
We call this a triple win.
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, individuals, leaders and teams work together to determine what outputs are required for 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. Ultimately, this progressive community of 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? Let us mail you DeGroot & Detjen’s recently published article: Transformative Flex. We’ll also include information
about ThirdPath’s invitation only April 2019 Pioneering Leader Summit. Send your mailing address to: Time4Life(at)ThirdPath.org
Change Can Begin at Home
We need to continue to push for changes in public policy and more flexible organizations but there are changes that we can make in our own homes to move away from rigid gender based roles and assumptions.
Dads working full time …
Dan (New York Dad) – “My wife and I have developed a rhythm of working together to balance work and home life. Most days I handle getting our daughter’s things together for the sitter and drop off / pickup. Jen handles getting our daughter ready for the day and getting us out the door on time. In the evenings we share in the tasks of bath duty, laundry, story time and bed time routine. I enjoy this arrangement because Jen and I split up the responsibilities giving us each one on one time with our daughter but still have time together as a family.”
Dads flexing work hours …
Miguel (Chicago Dad) – “I’m a stay at home dad who works part time and enjoys every minute of both. After 20+ years in the button down corporate world, I took a step back and decided that I wanted to stay home with our daughter since we knew she would be our only child. She brings me joy and excitement every day. I love being able to be around for all the big milestones as well as the silly little things. Of course it helps that my wife works full-time which covers our day to day necessities. Keeping my hand in the working world allows me to have some balance and engage in grown up conversations. I wouldn’t trade this for anything!”
Dads staying home full time …
Dan (Chicago Dad) – “You never know what life is going to throw at you. All you can do as a couple is adapt and make sure you are there for each other. Our “style”, dates back to the end of 2005 when I left a high pressure banking job for what I thought would be a 12-18 month break to spend more time with our 3 boys and decompress. Almost 8 years later, I remain “retired” and a full time stay at home dad. My wife’s career flourishes (I’m very proud of her), and I would not trade the time I have had seeing my boys grow and mature. Being the only dad at school events clearly designed for moms and continually asked why you aren’t “working” can be tiring. But taking comfort in knowing you were there for your kids makes it all worthwhile.”
Dads sharing in the care after school …
Read more …
Listen to our March 2018 Thursday with ThirdPath webinar where two dads discuss how they share work and family responsibilities of their school aged children. When both parents learn how to navigate school closures, sick days, after school activities and summer schedules, it can make full time flexible work possible for both parents. And when men and women both learn how to share in these predictable and unpredictable changes, everyone wins – moms, dads, kids, and our workplaces. Here are a few things you will gain from this approach:
More time as a family:
After school time can be great for both bonding and productive activities. Parents can plan an after school adventure instead of waiting for the weekend. They can also schedule appointments and errands. One shared care dad combined the two, “my kids weren’t always thrilled to get the errands done, so I’d make a plan to go someplace fun afterwards.”
More wiggle room for change:
Learning to work as a team, knowing which parent can flex and when, as well as building a network of support with family and friends, will pay big dividends when families work together to navigate school closures, sick days, and the summer months.
More opportunities to teach life lessons:
As children become more self-sufficient, creating a relaxed afternoon at home can give everyone time to connect. Having a friend come over can free up parents to get other household tasks done, or as children grow older, they can help you with these activities, by learning to take on responsibilities like laundry and cooking meals.
More able to be present for teens:
Older school aged children may start to need you less, but being around still makes a big difference. Parents of teens learn that teachable moments come at different times – at the mall when trying on clothes, or late at night when they are trying to finish a paper. Other parents admit to “shamelessly eavesdropping” during car pools. This helps the parent ask better questions later on such as, “So how is that new coach?” By taking turns being the parent at home, both parents increase the likelihood of being available, whatever comes up.
Want to learn more about mom’s and dad’s who are doing things differently at home? Check out our “integrating work and family” web page.
The New Revolutionaries
This month’s blog post provides a sneak peak at some of the critical issues we will shine a spotlight on in the upcoming 2018-19 season of our popular webinar series – Thursdays with ThirdPath. Starting in October we will be exploring how to make the impossible, possible – how to promote family well-being AND gender equality!
Brigid Schulte does a great job looking at this in her book Overwhelmed, Work, Love and Play When No One Has the Time. In it she describes the web of forces that make us feel stuck in a life that is going too fast – a life that includes little time for reflection and even less time for joy.
But Schulte wants us to think bigger:
“What if not just women, but both men and women, worked smart, more flexible schedules? What if the workplace itself was more fluid than the rigid and narrow ladder to success of the ideal worker? … And what if both men and women became responsible for raising children and managing the home, sharing work, love, and play? Could everyone then live whole lives?”
At ThirdPath we are putting these revolutionary ideas into practice:
People who are part of the ThirdPath community are showing us how to push back at overwhelm. They have also discovered, changing their approach to work and family is not just good for their own lives, but good for their workplaces.
Leaders and fathers are a critical part of the revolution:
Click the SoundCloud icon to listen to our conversation with Brigid Schulte and two progressive leaders who describe how they have redesigned both work and family to create more satisfying lives, not just for themselves, but for their whole teams. Or read on to learn how one young dad switched to a four day work week, creating a win for his workplace and a win for his family. We’re so proud to be part of this movement for change – the groundswell of people who are choosing to step away from constant overwhelm and reclaim their lives.
CJ is one of the new revolutionaries:
CJ is one of the father’s ThirdPath has worked with to “redesign” his work so he had more time to care for his children. Our job was to help CJ find a “win-win” solution – one that was good for him and good for his workplace.
Read more …
CJ also noticed how many of his “highest priority” tasks required focused attention for prolonged stretches of time. As the company’s sole engineer, CJ was often the person people came to to ask for help – but these constant interruptions got in the way of him getting his own work done.
CJ decided to talk to the company’s general manager, Molly, about the suggested changes. What CJ noticed was that as he sought input from Molly, they both became more clear about what CJ should really be working on. CJ explained, “I can get confused about what my top priority work should be because everything seems like a priority. I can see where a regular review of what I am doing could be really valuable.”
“In both areas of my work, R&D and process improvement, I have a list that is two miles long. My daily tasks are chipping away at these two long lists. By having too much to do, all that happens is that the progress in both areas slows down. Now I’ve gotten better at asking, ‘What is my biggest priority?’ and, ‘At what rate do I need these things to get done?’”
Molly became an advocate for CJ, even helping him create routine “quiet time.” For example, Molly gently encouraged CJ to take a look at his own reluctance to say “no” to the various disruptions during his designated periods of quiet time. “I do enjoy those interruptions,” CJ admitted, “but my job suffers, and engineering and design tasks get put on hold.”
Six years later we asked CJ for an update. Here’s what he said:
“One of the best thing about the changes I made is that I have more energy at work — which means I’m more productive when I’m at work. I also have more energy at home — which means I’m a better husband and father. Combined with my commute, my work days are long, but then I get 3 full days to focus on my home life. It also means I’ve been able to schedule all personal appointments on Fridays, so I rarely if ever take time off work for personal matters, this is a benefit for both me and my employer.”
Join the revolution.
Want to create an integrated approach to work and life like CJ? This year’s Thursday with ThirdPath webinars will help you do just that. Tune in all year, or download our recordings. Want to get started today? Check out our many resources. Click here to learn more.
Take A Vacation: It’s Time To Recharge Your Batteries
Taking a vacation is good for you, its good for your family and it turns out its good for your organization!
Here’s what we at ThirdPath have learned about the importance of vacation time over the past 15 plus years of advocating for doing work and family differently. You can also listen to our Thursdays with ThirdPath webinar where we discussed this topic by clicking on the SoundCloud player.
However – some of us might need to challenge a few work norms to make this happen: the fear of being perceived as an under performer; the pressure to see it as a win-lose proposition – either we meet our client and customer needs or our own personal needs; or the worry that maybe there’s no point to take a week off given the demands to be available while away and the difficulty transitioning back upon return.
But there’s a lot to gain when we push back at these norms.
– Time off can have several health benefits like reducing risk of heart disease, stress and depression.
– Seeing new places and experiencing different things can have a positive effect on our overall outlook on life, providing a fresh and new perspective.
– Time away from work can also help us remember that work is just one part of who we are and remind us that we have friends, family and other life interests.
Here’s a list of ideas to help increase the enjoyment of your time away and maximize the benefits upon your return. For the full list, click here.
Read more …
- Plan vacations around the “seasonality” of your work. Try scheduling longer trips for less busy periods of work and “long weekend vacations” when work is busier.
- Block off pre and post “quiet” work days. Avoid scheduling meetings and phone calls the day before you leave and the day you return to allow for the “unexpected” and for catch up time when you return.
- Create a “what can wait” list. A week before you go, create a list of things that you can wait to get done after vacation, versus tasks that must be completed before you go.
- Decide how “connected” you want to be. If you need to check email or voice messages, plan ahead around what’s least disruptive.
- Carefully define emergencies. Think ahead about what challenges could arise. Clearly define emergencies to avoid everything becoming one.
- Keep track of what worked well. Create a list you can refer back to of helpful ideas for planning your next vacation.
And don’t forget, creating vacations that really recharge our batteries may also require us to change how we approach vacations as a family. Two parents working together as a team to plan and make the most of a vacation, makes it a better experience for everyone. (And while you’re at it, don’t forget to plan a romantic getaway for just the two of you!)