ThirdPath

The Economics of Work-Life Balance

April 3, 2018andyagnewBlog

Are we willing to trade profit for greater life satisfaction?

ThirdPath has been working with a truly inspirational group of leaders who are learning how to support an integrated approach to work and life from top to bottom. It’s also probably no coincidence that some of these leaders started their own business – often a situation where innovation can transpire very rapidly.

What you might not have considered is that the approach these leaders are modeling is linked to new kind of bottom line.

Instead of building organizations that rely on extreme performance goals in order to meet inflated bottom lines, these leaders are promoting a very different path. They teach us “enough is enough” by putting an end to excessive work hours, and instead encouraging employees to be successful at work AND have time for their lives outside of work.

Attorney Anthony Doniger, a Partner at Sugarman Rogers, and past president of the Boston Bar Association, has many wise words to share on this topic. To listen to the wonderful discussion we had with Tony and two other leaders – both who founded their own law firms – click the SoundCloud icon on the right.

You can also read on for an inspirational excerpt from an article Tony wrote for the Boston Bar Journal, A Different Measure of Success.

ThirdPath Money and Happiness

A good deal has been written about contentment, stress, dissatisfaction and disillusion in the legal profession [and other professions as well, ThirdPath would argue!]. For better or for worse, many lawyers and most large and mid-size law firms often measure their success not on a happiness or contentment index but against a monetary standard. Earnings — or “profit per partner” — is the currency with which firms compete for rankings on the all important The American Lawyer charts.

To improve these monetary rankings firms do things that are harmful to the profession and bad for lawyers.

One way to increase profit per partner is to limit the number of partners who count in the equation. However, with fewer people making partner, it is of course harder for diversity milestones to be achieved as there are fewer openings in the partnership ranks for anyone. On the revenue side, the pursuit of ever increasing revenues by definition imposes greater pressures on associates (and all lawyers). The result, of course, is that lawyers have less time for professional and other non-billable activities.

In addition, mergers and acquisitions have increased markedly over the last decade. The cost of these transitional events is not insignificant. Indeed, at the annual Boston Bar Association Leadership Retreat, a large percentage of the attorneys present had personally experienced such an event, finding it stressful and resulting in a solution that was less optimal from the perspective of contentment, though perhaps more profitable.

In the end, we need to ask when enough is enough.

Should we be willing to trade some profit or growth in profit for greater satisfaction? Surely it is okay to make a little less next year (or not make more) and take on some new professional or pro bono activities, or yes, even personal activities (there’s nothing wrong with hiking the Appalachian Trail).

There is much we can do to improve our professional and personal lives, our pro bono and bar work, our efforts to improve access to justice, if only we would emphasize alternative measures of success.

This employee-centered approach achieves success across industries. Chief executive Jim Sinegal, retired from Costco in 2012, was another pioneer around this approach.  Read Jim’s thoughts “On Leadership,” in the Washington Post.

Are you a leader taking this approach? We would LOVE to feature your story. Email us at:time4life(at)thirdpath.org

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The Benefits of Shared Care

February 26, 2018andyagnewBlog

What’s at stake? Why a shared approach to family is a goal worth reaching for!

There are many forces working against parents who are both interested in redesign their work so they can share in the care of their children.

We were honored to have 1MFWF ask us to write about how couples can overcome these barriers and create a “team at home.” We also used this opportunity to put a spotlight on some of the wonderful shared care families we know.

Over the years, a number of authors have written about Shared Care, and Kristin Maschka, one of these wonderful authors, recently joined us for a Thursdays with ThirdPath webinar. Kristin’s book, This is Not How I Thought it Would Be – Redesigning Motherhood, does a great job describing how she and her husband first got stuck in traditional work and family roles, but then learned how to work together to create a shared approach they are still practicing today.

Below are some of the things Kristin believes she and her husband gained by switching to Shared Care. You can also click on the YouTube video to watch a recording of our recent webinar with her.

“I knew what I would lose. I’d lose my marriage – Maybe not literally, but something vital at its core. David and I got married as equals, as best friends, as partners. When we were married, we vowed to ‘be true to the pursuit of the dreams and goals we both share. The dream we shared now was of a family life with everyone home for dinner, with time for our relationship with each other. We wanted a family life that would allow us to share the family responsibilities so that we both had time to pursue our own dreams and both had a relationship with Kate. How could we hope to have our marriage stand the test of time if we gave up on that vow to be true to the dreams we both shared? I would always carry some level of resentment, and he would always feel some defensiveness. If we gave up on the idea that we could share responsibility for our family, effectively we would be giving up on a core value in our marriage.”

Shared Care Books
Read more …
“What would David lose? – I didn’t want David to miss out on the richness of the relationship I had with Kate. A richness that came from putting a cold washcloth on her feverish forehead, from reading and giggling about stories in her bed at night, and, yes, from the times she drove me crazy and I yelled and then said I was sorry and she hugged me anyway. I didn’t want David to find many years later that he didn’t know his own child, had missed her childhood and couldn’t have a meaningful conversation with her. I wanted more for him. So badly it brought me to tears. And I was pretty sure he wanted it too.”

Want to learn more about Shared Care? We highly recommend any of these books:
The Libra Solution, Shedding Excess and Redefining Success at Work and at Home, Lisa D’Annolfo Levey (2012)
Equally Shared Parenting, Rewriting the Rules for a New Generation of Parents,
Marc and Amy Vachon (2011)
This is Not How I Thought It Would Be, Remodeling Motherhood To Get The Lives We Want Today, Kristin Maschka (2009)
Getting to 50-50, How Working Couples Can Have it All by Sharing it All,
Sharon Lerner (2009)
Daddy On Board, Parenting Roles for the 21st Century, Dottie Lamm (2007)
How to Avoid The Mommy Trap, A Road Map for Sharing Parenting and Making it Work,
Julie Shields (2003)
The Four-Thirds Solution, Solving the Childcare Crisis in America Today, Stanley Greenspan (2002)
Halving it All, How Equally Shared Parenting Works,
Francine Deutsch (2000)
Love Between Equals, How Peer Marriage Really Works, Pepper Schwartz (1995)

Check out the many resources we have for families. Let us help you design the work/family solution that is right for you!

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The New Normal

January 3, 2018jdegrootBlog

#MenWomenFlex

Below is a list of some of the key obstacles men face when trying to create a flexible approach to work and family. When you take a look at the list, notice how 4 out of 5 of them look very familiar to the barriers women face.

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 GroupDad 2.0 SummitNational at Home Dad NetworkBoston 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 …
Doug French – Doug and his ex-wife share in the care of their two school aged children, flexing work and child care responsibilities. Doug, co-founder of the Dad 2.0 Summit, is helping dads use their collective marketing power to create a new narrative for fatherhood.

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.

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Holidays: More Joy, Less Stress

December 20, 2017andyagnewBlog

Want holidays to include more joy and less stress?

We’ve spent the last 15 years talking to families who have redesigned their lives to create more joy and less stress.

On one of our previous Thursdays with ThirdPath webinars we talked with two experts about the added stress we all experience around the holidays. Not only do these two guests work with individuals and couples to help them find more joy and less stress in their lives, Jeanine O’Rourke and Rachel Allender have lots of experience trying to “walk the talk” themselves. They are also long-time ThirdPath community members. Click the Soundcloud icon on the right to listen to the recording of the call. We promise you’ll walk away with lots of new ideas.

Or … take a look at some of the questions we discussed. We’re guessing they’ll help you find more holiday joy and less stress too.

Work and Time Off – December is a good month to set some limits around how much time you spend at work. How demanding is work in December? How much time can you take off? Do you need to work over the holidays? What can you do differently around work and taking time off next year?

Gift Giving – It’s easy to get caught up in gift giving and buy more than planned – sometimes putting a strain on our family budgets and values. It also takes time to buy gifts, including helping relatives know what gifts to give. What are you enjoying most about gift giving this year? What would you like to do differently next year?

Other Holiday Expectations – Creating holiday cards, putting up holiday decorations, attending holiday events – at work, with friends, and at your children’s schools – can all require a lot of time over the holidays. Which ones do you enjoy the most? Are there any you would like to skip next year?

Family Time and Family Traditions – The most important part of the holidays is creating time with our families. Which family traditions create the most fun and cause the least stress? Are there any that could be simplified or maybe even crossed off the list?

Holiday Planning – The fantasy is that holidays magically happen. The truth is: advance planning helps us focus on what is most important. It also helps us find ways to share the work load. Who can be part of your planning team and how can you work together to create more joy and less stress?

holidays
Read more …
One of the best holiday gifts you can give yourself is to take 20 minutes after the holidays to write down your thoughts. Then next year, you can revisit your list as you plan for holidays 2018!

Want a free copy of ThirdPath’s holiday planner?

Email us at: Time4Life(at)ThirdPath.org … Subject: Holiday Joy!
This simple worksheet can help you keep track of what worked well this holiday season. Then you can pull it out next November as you plan for the next round of holidays!

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Systems Thinking and Work Life Balance

November 1, 2017andyagnewBlog

Take Time to Stop and Smell the Pine Trees

Peter Senge helped launch our first Thursday with ThirdPath webinar of the year. Together we discussed the importance of finding the right balance between time for work, time for life, and time to recharge.

As Peter Senge said, “if we don’t choose the boundaries that make the most sense for us, technology and the norms of our workplaces will choose for us.” Peter is the author of The Fifth Discipline, and he showed us how systems thinking helps us better understand how to reclaim our lives.

We talked about how it takes courage to ask for what you want – whether it’s turning off work on vacation or asking to flex your work hours. But when we do this, everyone benefits. You can see this in our story about CJ, a father who changed to a four day work week, and by doing so he created a number of more efficient work processes.

You can also see this in the stories we’ve collected for our “Meet the Pioneers” blog. Stories like Andrea’s, where very early in her career – way before becoming a parent – she made a number of wise choices that became the building blocks for creating an integrated approach to work and life today.

To hear the webinar, click the YouTube video on the right. Or read on to hear some of the questions people asked Peter, and the wise advice he provided.

Yosemite
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Question: Creating a vision requires stepping out of the madness and finding a moment for contemplation. Instead people get stuck in “fast forward” mode. What can people do?

More than time, what is needed is giving yourself permission to create the space to do this. It also helps to have others who are willing to think with you, and to encourage you to focus on what’s important as opposed to what’s secondary. In our over stimulated world we can begin to think we don’t have enough time. But actually we have the same 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week and how ever many years we are going to live. That hasn’t changed a bit. What has changed is the mental model and the choices of how we spend our time. Once you realize this, you can make the necessary choices to create a different kind of space – a quiet space. It doesn’t matter if it’s running or yoga, just so long as it isn’t something “externally stimulating” like watching TV or surfing the web. There is nothing wrong with these activities. But in our over stimulated environments we never have enough time. What’s required is a shift in mindset.

Question: I get pulled into meaningless meetings. I negotiated a four day work week, but was told to keep it quiet. How do you live with this greater sense of meaning when faced with a work culture that is so different?

When you are trying to be sane in an insane environment, people will call you crazy. Your action is a contradiction to their assumptions. It’s not because they are bad people, they are just expressing the norms of the work culture, and they see you as contradicting these norms. You are also making them recognize that there is a choice. You are taking a stand for something that matters to you, and it probably matters to them as well, and your actions require them to face that they too have options. Do you want to take a stand for something that you really care about? One person might not be able to make a difference, but you can always take a stand for yourself. It’s also important to not do it out of anger. People will only hear the anger. You need to do it because you feel it’s the right thing to do. You need to be clear in your words and actions, “I’m not doing this to criticize you, I’m doing this because this it is what I need.”

Question: I’m supervising a team and doing the job of 3 persons. How can any of us try and work less when my boss’ answer will be to just get the work done?

A lot of organizations are expecting to do more and more without the necessary resources. I would just encourage you to ask your boss, “What do you think about this? It seems like we are trying to get too much done with the resources we have.” What you will be doing is engaging him or her in a process of inquiry. If you start with a simple assumption, that you and your boss have many common goals, it will help. I can guarantee that when you bring this issue up, your boss will feel just as stuck as you do. And if you can then find ways to engage a team of people to think about this issue, and do it by evoking curiosity, it’s amazing what can be done. I guarantee you, things won’t get worse.

Would you like help creating your own unique “third path” – an integrated approach to work and life?  Look at the “Get Help” section of our website – we’ve got lots of resources for you.

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Our Mission

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