ThirdPath

5 Mandates for Change

October 5, 2017jdegrootBlog

Why Change is Imperative

The 2017-2018 season of Thursdays with ThirdPath webinars will explore the practical steps you can take on the road to integration – whether you are launching your first career, becoming a new parent, balancing work and the care of school aged children, or work and the care of an aging loved one.

Our focus will be on the “how-to” of following an integrated approach, but following this approach is also a revolutionary act that improves our lives and benefits our workplaces.

Anne-Marie Slaughter shows us just how revolutionary this approach is in her book Unfinished Business, making the case, “most of the pervasive gender inequalities in our society – for both men and women – cannot be fixed unless men have the same range of choices with respect to mixing caregiving and breadwinning that women do.”

Both men and women need to change, she argues, but so do our workplaces. “Radical as it may seem, 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.” The workplace she envisions is one where “new fathers would have to opt out of taking it rather than opting in. It also means welcoming whatever arrangements allow workers who are also caregivers not only to stay on the job, but also to stay on leadership track.”

To learn more about her revolutionary vision, listen to the YouTube recording of our Thursdays with ThirdPath webinar with her.

We’ve also included her original “5 mandates” for change from the article that went viral. When you read them, you’ll see why they sounded so familiar – especially after we added the words “men and women” to each mandate.


Anne-Marie Slaughter’s “5 mandates for change” – and their connection to ThirdPath’s mission

Men and Women Changing the Culture of Face Time – This is at the root of all of the work ThirdPath does as we encourage men and women 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. It also means pushing back at chronically overworked work cultures so that employees don’t just trade long hours at the office for long hours at home.

Men and Women Revaluing Family Values – ThirdPath sees this in the multitude of Shared Care families we’ve met – whether they flexed or worked reduced hours at the same time, or shared different roles at different stages in their family’s development. In each of these stories the parents learned how to maintain their involvement with work while also staying actively involved in the joys and responsibilities of caring for their children.

Men and Women Redefining the Arc of a Successful Career – This is at the core of the work we do with ThirdPath’s Pioneering Leaders. This is a truly inspirational group of male and female leaders who have all courageously followed integrated career paths. Now they are working with us to create wider change. Together we are examining the systemic issues that need to be addressed so even more leaders can follow in their footsteps.

Men and Women Rediscovering the Pursuit of Happiness – Whether it is the joy you gain from an amazing vacation (our August blog post), or making the most of summer (our July blog post) or pushing back at overwhelm (our September blog post), this recommendation gets right to the heart of our mission: to assist individuals, families and organizations in finding new ways to redesign work and life to create time for family, community and other life priorities.

Men and Women Becoming an Innovation Nation – Right again! Lotte Bailyn discovered this concept over a decade ago when she first introduced the term “dual agenda” – solutions that are good for business and good for you. Today this is also central to our work. And just like Lotte discovered so many years ago, we’ve also seen how encouraging employees to follow this approach – from entry level to executive level – means they actually find ways to improve how they work.

Join this year’s Thursdays with ThirdPath webinars – we’ll show you how you can put these ideas into action and join the revolution.

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The Pursuit of Happiness

September 25, 2017andyagnewBlog

The New Revolutionaries

In Brigid Schulte’s book Overwhelmed, Work, Love and Play When No One Has the Time, 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 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.

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In order to reduce his workload from five to four days, we asked CJ if could: systematize tasks to reduce the amount of work required; change who did the work – for example delegating tasks that no longer were a good use of his time; slow down the pace of his work by reprioritizing the deadlines of less critical work.

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 be exploring the 8 major crossroads you’ll need to navigate as you design an integrated approach to work and life. You’ll discover the choices we make, skills we develop, and lessons we learn, can help prepare you for the next one. Want to get started today? Check out our many resources. Click here to learn more.

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Take That Vacation!

August 2, 2017andyagnewBlog

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.

In Short, the Shared Care parents and Integrated Leaders we’ve worked with, have taught us that disengaging from work while taking a vacation can improve our effectiveness at work and increase the skills we need to find a more satisfying approach to work and life.

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.

Vacation Benefits:

– 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.

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Vacation Check List:

  • 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 your at it, don’t forget to plan a romantic getaway for just the two of you!)

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Make The Most Of Your Summer!

July 2, 2017andyagnewBlog

Making the Most of Summer

Think summer has to be a struggle between work and family?  Think again.  Here are some of the things ThirdPath has learned about balancing work and family over the summer.  And one of the most important things we’ve learned is that taking 20 minutes to write down what you liked (and didn’t like) about this summer will be a big help when you plan for next summer.

  • In general summers can allow for an enjoyable “slower pace” at home.
  • But summers also take A LOT of planning.
  • The age of your children will also have a big impact on what happens during the summer. What worked last year might not work again this year since your child is a whole year older!
  • Finding the “right” camp can be a highlight, but finding it can be quite a journey.
  • Another summer goal is finding the “right” mix of planned and unplanned activities – balancing boredom versus over scheduling.
  • Summers can also provide an opportunity for children to develop independent interests, such as reading and trying out new hobbies.
  • Over time families often develop a rhythm to summers that can last year after year, some becoming deeply valued memories and “family traditions.”

You can also listen to what a few pioneering mothers and fathers had to say about summers by clicking on the SoundCloud player for our Thursday with ThirdPath webinar on this topic.


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 Interested in learning more?  Here are some summer solutions we thought were very creative  …

– Grandparents and extended family can play a great role in summers. Children can spend one or two weeks with them (and sometimes with other cousins as well). This can provide a great opportunity for the two generations to get to know each other and connect.

– A partner in an accounting firm negotiated a “flex year” schedule – working a total of 20 hours during the summer months. This gave her maximum time with her school aged children. Then during her “busy season” – January through April – her husband became the primary parent in charge.

– ThirdPath has also met many families where one parent intentionally became a school teacher as a way to have more flexibility throughout the summers. In one of these families, the other parent negotiated an alternative summer schedule so she could work remotely one day a week.

– Telework can be a great summer solution when caring for teens. It’s also a great option for stretching out limited vacation time. One family planned a two week beach vacation but only used one week of vacation time. They did this by trading off who was working (in the mornings or in the afternoons) while the other parent played with the children at the beach.

You may also want to take a look at this great blog post from author Christine Carter about her 3 steps to a successful summer

Don’t forget our summertime tip: Write up your “summertime” notes, then pull these out in February when you start planning for next summer!

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Pioneering Leaders Summit 2017

June 30, 2017andyagnewBlog

Men and Women Fighting for Change

In this blog post ThirdPath celebrates the men and women who participated in our 2017 Pioneering Leaders Summit.

Together, our pioneering leaders have begun to put the pieces together for a world that supports success at work and success in our lives outside of work – it’s also a world that will profoundly improve the lives of fathers.

Healthy family systems need time to recharge…

Families need money, families need care, and families need time to recharge. With over 15 years of working with individuals, leaders and families, ThirdPath has also learned that organizations gain when men and women learn how to set thoughtful limits at work so they have time and energy for their lives outside of work.

The male and female leaders at our Summit took many steps over the course of their careers to achieve this. All of them also created a “team at home” to better manage both domains.

Increased demands on families, means less time to recharge…

This year’s Summit focused specifically on the “new family” stage – a time when many families feel stretched thin – and many also fall into gendered patterns at work and at home.

Instead, the fathers at our Summit shared stories of rearranging their work schedules to pick up children from daycare. Or they became the primary parent designing work around family. Or they broke new ground by having both parents work reduced schedules to share in the care of their children.

Add to this one job – or both jobs – requiring more than full time work, and it can lead to chronic overwork and gendered patterns at work and home…

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Listen to our May Thursdays with ThirdPath webinar (above) for a quick recap of the Summit and to learn how chronic overwork is bad for organizations and bad for families. Or click here to learn how overwork is contributing to a widening gender gap. Unfortunately, the gendered patterns around chronic overwork are no surprise to ThirdPath. When parents balance work and family, the aren’t just balancing work and caregiving, they are also looking for ways to decrease their family’s financial risk. And when organizations are more likely to reward employees who overwork, it should be no surprise that this plays out in a very gendered way.

That’s why men and women need to work together to redesign work, family, and to push back at norms around overwork.

Check our our “Redesigning Leadership” page to learn more. Or are you ready to take the next step towards creating a more integrated approach to work and life? Join our next Overwhelm Mitigation Group – learn how to push back at overwhelm, get more efficient at work, and have more time (and energy!) for life.

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Assist individuals, families and organizations in finding new ways to redesign work to create time for family, community and other life priorities. Develop a growing community of individuals, leaders and organizations to influence wider change - both within organizations and at the public policy level. Support a new mind-set where everyone can follow a "third path" - an integrated approach to work and life.

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Phone: 215.747.8790
Email: time4life (at) thirdpath.org