For more than a decade I worked in Big Sur, a beautiful but rugged part of California’s central coast where the mountains are described as walking into the ocean. It was against this dramatic landscape that I first began to appreciate the power that comes from integrating seemingly disparate parts of our lives into a functioning whole. In Big Sur, this can look like the wildness of the land in the form of devastating fires and landslides alongside its breathtaking beauty of golden sunsets and fields of wildflowers. They coexist together but there is never a time when all aspects of Big Sur are in balance.
Unfortunately, we’ve been conditioned to aspire to a goal of work/life balance that simply is unrealistic. For leaders, this is especially important to be aware of as we juggle multiple priorities, conflicting deadlines, and ongoing emergencies. Inevitably it will feel that one person, project, or role is getting more of our attention than others and we have somehow failed the rest.
However, when we shift our perspective from balance to integration, we can better incorporate our values in how we show up in both our professional and personal lives and not see our focus and presence as a zero-sum equation. The result? We feel more satisfied in our work and increase our motivation for ourselves and the teams we lead.
Practice for You
Integrating Your Values and Commitments
Many of you may be familiar with the phrase, “Play along to get along.” Perhaps it is even a coping strategy you have used in the past to navigate complex workplaces and meet short-term goals. Yet this role-playing and compartmentalization has a downside, potentially separating ourselves from the core values that motivate us.
When counseling my clients who seek a greater sense of satisfaction in their lives, a simple practice I have them follow is to write down three core values and keep them visually present. Just as a compass points to true north, our values represent our own North Star when competing commitments, demands, and emergencies compete for our focus. You may discover by returning to what is most important to you, it will help you be more discerning in how you allocate your time and energy while leaving you with a greater sense of empowerment.
Value 2: _______________
Value 3: _______________
Practice for Your Team
Another important benefit of integration is helping to sustain positive change and transformation within our teams. One of the most common complaints I hear from organizations is that training and other professional development isn’t always applied at work. Team members may be sent to conferences and come back motivated with new learnings, but somewhere those changes get lost in daily work.
To help foster greater integration of transformative learnings, consider these strategies:
Build a Community: Intentionally creating a community around promising practices can help your team apply new learnings to their daily work. What’s more, the community can be a vital forum to adapt insights to meet your organization's unique needs.
Create Accountability: A common mistake some organizations make is to invest in professional development – specifically conferences – without any expectation from the participant. Wherever possible set expectations for staff engaged in conferences and workshops to integrate their insights in their own work as well as sharing with the larger team.
Measure Success: Set milestones to check in with your team to evaluate how well they are managing integration. Do silos still exist? Is information being hoarded? Is there confusion around projects? These are red flags to reset efforts.
A Spark of Joy
Enjoy this aerial tour of Big Sur, which captures the breathtaking beauty, ruggedness and wildness of this part of California’s central coast:
A Different View
I spoke with Trang Nguyen, Chief Empowerment Officer of the SEAVA Group, on "Beyond the Balance Myth: Embracing Integration for Greater Impact”. Watch our LinkedIn Live:
Executive Coaching and Leadership Development