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Positive Enterprise Value Blog Work-Life Balance? Schmalance.
Private Enterprise Value Blog work-life balance

Work-Life Balance? Schmalance.

August 4, 2021

3 minute read

Portsmouth, NH

There’s been so much drama in the past 18 months about work, home, working from home, non-working from home, living with the pathetically unscientific lockdown quarantine forced by bureaucrats…and its consequences for Entrepreneur Owner-Managers and our families, communities, and enterprises, that it is timely to republish this short blog post from 2017.

Ever try balancing perfectly on a seesaw? In theory it’s possible, but in application, it doesn’t work very well for very long. One person usually spends a lot of time with their bum on the ground while the other’s is up in the air. They then try to re-balance and…they trade places with the opposite in the air and the other on the ground.

Let’s think for a moment about the construction of the popular term “work-life balance”. Simply allowing the question to be formed in that way “work-life balance”, we are creating an artificial duality, where evidently work is not life and life is not work, but rather they are two different elements to be “balanced”. Why have we surrendered our free will to the popular culture’s incredibly narrow and limiting definition of our lives?

All seasoned, successful entrepreneurs, whether engaged in leading for-profit or not-for-profit organizations, know that sustained achievement usually comes about as a result of significant, persistent, and in many cases risky work. Work that has risk of failure. Few great achievements are possible without passionate and determined work, right? Work that is so absorbing and challenging that… candidly, sometimes little energy is left over, unless it is left for the more strenuous kinds of play or active leisure which serves to rejuvenate and restore our depleted physical and mental energy.

Do you believe as I do that the contemporary symptoms of anomie which urban populations exhibit, and where we default into faulty constructions like “work-life balance”, is intimately related to our estrangement from the life of the earth, from Mother Nature? Activities that bring us into contact with the simple life of the earth and our animal spirits have something profoundly satisfying in them, don’t they? Even after those activities stop, the happiness that they bring remains in our memory.

Will a generation that cannot do this be a generation of little people, divorced from Nature, unable to reach their full human potential, of people in whom their animal spirits wither? (Quick: what is the state of the tide? The phase of the moon?). A culture in which vital impulses—animal spirits—are not celebrated, but scolded, as though we are domesticated pets straining against our leash?

We fully recognize, don’t we, that as entrepreneurs, we very intentionally choose our calling—our purpose, the “why” we do what we do. We choose how we operationalize it, whom we work with, and where we work. Our lives are full of relationships, activities, goals: purpose, romance, kids, social sector causes, aging parents, investments, destinations to explore, extended friend relationships, and on and on. Why should we fit them all into the pop culture’s nice neat “work-life balance”? We know that the most effective solutions to the challenges in our complex lives come at the intersections of disciplines. We integrate them. It is a real gift.

There exists no randomized double-blind controlled study on this. But what I have repeatedly observed in my thirty-plus years of scar tissue is that sustained, high performing entrepreneurs purposefully design their lives so that work and non-work purpose, relationships, and activities are integrated, not merely balanced.

Sure, you might get away with trying the balance thing for a while if you live / work in the bureaucratic time and effort world. Maybe there you can hide, play dead. But, most people in the bureaucratic world die at age 25. They just aren’t put in the coffin until 60 years later. Life is growth baby—if you play dead, you are dead. Light a candle in the dark. Why give up your bad assery to conform with the expectations of the bureaucratic consumer pop culture?

Rest is essential for good work. Work is as essential as rest. The questions we ask matter. So let’s co-create better questions. Work-life balance? Schmalance. Work-life integration? Hell yeah.

What I am Reading / Listening to

Malibu Rising (2021)
By Taylor Jenkins Reid

Contributed by Marisa B. Lister

Set in Malibu, CA the surf town nestled along the coast and cliffs off the Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu Rising is centered around four famous siblings Nina, Jay, Hud, and Kit Riva and one night in 1983 when all their lives dramatically change. The narrative bounces back and forth from that day in 1983 when the Riva family throws their annual end of the summer party, and the 1950s where it chronicles the tumultuous love story of their mother June and up and coming singer Mick Riva.

I found myself immediately enamored with all the characters (even Mick with his philandering ways) and invested in each of their story lines.  Nina, the eldest, turned surf model to support her three siblings; Jay the pro surfer with a secret; Hud, the “twin” brother also with a secret; and Kit, the youngest just trying to not get lost and overshadowed by her elder Riva siblings.   Malibu Rising was a compulsive read about the bounds of family and the fact that no matter how hard you try, breaking free can be much harder than you thought.

Entrepreneur Owner-Manager Quote

“Bigelow empowered Ken and me to choose a new path for our company and ourselves. Bigelow’s understanding of the many, varied nuances of owner-managers enabled them to guide us through the transition process. Ultimately, Bigelow’s creativity allowed us to reimagine our roles and their diligence let us unlock our company’s future potential. We will be forever grateful.”

-Chet Jordan, former Chief Executive Officer, Digital Architecture, Inc.


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