Dragons and unicorns sort of intrigue me. They are merely mythological creatures. They’re not real. Yet, each has created an eternal legacy around itself. Leprechauns, Minotaurs, and even Bigfoot and the Lock Ness Monster fall into this same category. Despite their fabricated nature, their “existence” is very alive and well. They live on and cannot die.
The average full-time hourly employee works 2,080 hours a year; salaried employees generally far exceed the two-thousand hour mark. That’s 250+ days of work (after removing holidays and maybe a few vacation days). Of course, one has to factor back in the various weekend hours for business trips, checking emails, and finishing projects. Yes, as Americans we work… a lot.
At some point over the past several years a new term emerged most often referred to as… Work/Life Balance! It is described in many different ways and can take on many different forms. However, its general essence is understood to be the perfect union of one’s work life and one’s personal life.
Is Work/Life Balance real or another fictitious mythological creature?
The Minotaur is illustrated with the body of a man and the head of a bull. It is very easy to visualize because we know what a human body looks like and we know what a bull’s head looks like. (Oh yeah, in my mind the Minotaur has extra-long horns and wields a wicked sharp ax).
Similarly we know what work looks like, as referenced in the plethora of working hours mentioned about. We also know what our personal lives look like – all the stuff we do after leaving the office. Therefore we should be able to visualize this Work/Life Balance formation.
Somehow it’s not that easy.
Balance suggests equal weight is given to each component, or better stated the two components cannot be in opposition with each other. Furthermore, one’s personal life has to be independently healthy and happy. Same goes for one’s work life.
I’ve had jobs with great flexibility, company culture, and worked with amazing co-workers – but didn’t enjoy the job. The work itself wasn’t engaging or fulfilling. Everyone said it had great balance because it allowed “Life” to thrive even though the work part “suffered”. To me, that’s not balance.
Oppositely I’ve had jobs where I loved the work. However, other challenges around lower than expected earnings, difficult co-workers, or negative company culture caused these jobs to be less than satisfying.
So I get what Work/Life Balance should look like. I can even breakdown and understand the different components that make it possible. However, I’m still left searching to find it.
Will I eventually boldly declare Work/Life Balance’s reality?
Or will I endlessly search for the illusive entity?
If you have found it, let me know.
Image courtesy of saphatthachatf at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Bad leaders have no path in sight. Good leaders show others the path. The best leaders clear a path, then get out of the way. #leadership
Wow, another year in the books, another chapter ended and a new one begins. I didn’t complete all of my 2014 Bucket List items; it was a great year though – two trips to Orlando, days at the beach, Sevens Rugby Tournament, a trip to Brazil that included visiting Rio de Janeiro, fishing, kite flying, hiking, camping and so much more including a new job.
This year’s Bucket List combines travel, personal improvement, professional development and well… hopefully lots of fun!
1. Travel to international destination
2. Attend 3 trade shows or conferences
3. Spend a day at the beach
4. Take Melissa horseback riding
5. Go on a trip with Melissa
6. Take Melissa dancing
7. Go on a family campout
8. Travel to Arizona to visit my sisters
9. Attend a BYU football game with Dylan
10. Attend a Real Salt Lake game
11. Travel to a soccer tournament for Brendon
12. Read 6 books
13. Listen to 12 audiobooks
14. Attend a play or musical as a family
15. Try a new restaurant
16. Bike 250 miles
17. Go mountain biking
18. Go skiing or snowboarding
19. Hike Timpanogos Cave
20. Go hiking in Southern Utah
21. Enter a Biggest Loser weight-loss contest
22. Lose 35 lbs
23. Play on a sports team
24. Become a USSF licensed soccer coach
25. Take a photography class
26. Take an online story writing course
27. Have a water balloon fight
28. Take the family sledding
29. Go fishing with the family
30. Go ice fishing (3rd time is the charm)
31. Write 25 blog posts
32. Get a guest blog post published
33. Increase blog followers by 25%
34. Increase Twitter followers by 20%
35. Write 2 chapters in a book
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 840 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 14 trips to carry that many people.
The average prison cell is 6 feet by 8 feet (or at least I read something like that once). Compare that to the the size of a normal work cubicle. I’d venture to say the average cubicle worker spends the majority of their day in a much smaller space than the average prisoner.
Cubicles are used because they’re practical, I guess. I spent a few years working in a high walled, dingy gray cubicle. It was a bit gloomy, but I didn’t mind it terribly. Now that I’ve worked in better office surroundings I look back at how poor of a work space and office environment cubicles create. I get that not every company has the space for actual offices and honestly am not sure offices are always the answer. Cubicles I know are not the answer though. A cubicle limits communication, stifles creativity, creates segregation and isolation. All things that limit effective business.
I now work in a pleasantly open office environment. The open environment cultivates a culture of communication, creativity and collaboration. Admittedly sometimes I miss the privacy and quiet solitude of an office, but I do not miss working in the shadow of the walls of confinement of a cubicle.
“Mr. Office Manager, Tear Down This Wall!”
After working 2,000+ hours this year, it’s finally time to enjoy a few days off for the holidays. Yeah, that’s a lot of hours worked. That doesn’t take into account time commuting to and from the office, the countless overtime hours, or the sleepless nights consumed by thoughts of work projects, challenges and opportunities.
The hard work, long hours, stresses and successes are worth it, if focused on the reason we work in the first place; the driving force that gets us out of bed each morning and fuels us throughout the day. It’s why we do, what we do… it’s about people! First and foremost this is our family and loved ones, then hopefully our customers and our coworkers. These are the people whose lives we can enrich through our daily efforts.
May your holidays we full of love, warmth and happiness.
May 2015 be filled with prosperity and success.
Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!
You may be asking what these three things have in common. The answer is nothing – nothing at all. There is no correlation between them. So why did I name this blog accordingly? Well, life throws things at you that are unexpected.
A few weeks ago my morning started with a conference call on my cell phone. During the call I began walking around the building to get my blood flowing. At one point I unconsciously began to sit down on a box in the warehouse when… RIP. My jeans split, right in the crotch. Not good! Here I was, new to the job and now I’m gonna be known as ripped-pants guy. Ughhh! I assessed that the rip wasn’t TOO noticeable. I’d try to stay seated at my desk and walk around as little as possible.
An hour later I got a call requesting help in the production warehouse. A huge project required all-hands-on-deck to help out on the production line. “Me? On the production line? But I’m a marketing guy!” I thought. Nonetheless, I’ve always tried to be the kind of person willing to do whatever, wherever to help out. So I headed to the line started to marking displays and drilling holes. Oh yeah, power tools! Took about 30 minutes to get the gist of things, but once in a groove we were off to the races making 400+ displays.
Just before taking a break for lunch, I got a call from a friend from Brazil who was in the States visiting. Spur of the moment we decided to meet for lunch at a local sushi restaurant. Mmm gotta love sushi. We had a great lunch and caught up on old times, plus had some amazing sushi and lots of it.
Then back to the office for more production line work until the end of the work day. I even survived without anyone noticing I’d ripped my jeans – or at least everyone was nice enough to not laugh in my face about it.
None of what happened that day was planned or expected. If ‘Variety is the Spice of Life’ then that was one spicy day. I laughed to myself as I drove home. See, driving into work I mentally planned what would happen and what needed to be accomplished. The day was nothing like I thought it would be. Life rarely is.
After 10 years I’ve decided to leave Access Development to pursue a new opportunity. I’m extremely excited to begin this next chapter of my life.
As I looked back on the decade of experiences I’ve had with Access my first thought was “Wow, 10 years is a long time.”
My second thought was “Dang, 10 years goes by fast.”
I’ve learned a lot here. At the beginning of the year I wrote about 5 Things I Learned from my Access co-workers.
Looking back, what I feel more than anything is a sense of gratitude. Grateful for the relationships I’ve developed, friendships I’ve formed, experiences I’ve had that helped me learn and grow both personally and professionally; thankful for the successes and appreciative of the struggles.
I will miss the Access family and wish them all the best.
18 months after starting work at Access Development (I’ve been here 10 years now) I was on a sales team that ran a month long March Madness style contest. Different categories were determined and brackets assigned with eight reps competing in various areas of sales, consulting and productivity. Our team had many talented people making the contest both fun and challenging. In the end I won the contest through hard work and honestly a lot of luck, and partially because I wanted it more. Some reps held back during the month unsure if they wanted to win the grand prize – lunch with Larry.
Who is Larry?
Larry Maxfield is the CEO and Founder of Access Development. (I hope he doesn’t mind me sharing this story). In 1984 he almost headed off to study at MIT then decided to start a small company called Access Development in Salt Lake City, Utah. His vision, work and determination have built a strong company now 30 years later.
Back to the story: By nature I’m very competitive – that’s what drove me to win the contest. It wasn’t about the prize. Other reps were hesitant to win the contest because the idea of lunch with the CEO made them nervous.
When the day came for the lunch, Larry pulled up to the building in his FJ Cruiser and I jumped in the passenger seat. As we drove he said “Congratulations on winning. Remind me the details of the contest.” I explained the components and work that went into winning the month long competition. Larry unassumingly replied “Wow, you had to do all that and all you got out of it was lunch with me? That’s not a great prize” he laughed. “Plus, I’d go to lunch with you anytime if you just ask.”
We had a good meal that day while talking about family, hobbies, business and other topics. On the drive back to the office Larry told of an employee who shortly after coming to work at Access came to his office with a list of company problems. Larry said to me about that experience “Every company has lots of problems and challenges, ours is no difference. I know what the problems are. What I need are solutions. Solutions don’t come from me or upper management; solutions come from all the people in the trenches who do the hard work day after day. I welcome feedback, ideas and solutions from all the people who make this company great.”
Larry, the most powerful man in the company, demonstrated true leadership that day. He showed how real leadership and humility go hand-in-hand. He expressed sincere interest in being available to any employee anytime, whether for a casual lunch or to hear ideas on how to improve the company.
Of any contest, award or prize I’ve ever won, lunch with Larry was one of the most valuable!
Be a leader. Be humble. Be Sincere. Be you!
A couple weeks ago I took part in our company’s annual 5K run. It’s the 4th year I’ve participated which is quite impressive considering I don’t like to run – at all! This explains why I was completely content to walk most of the 3.1 miles.
Someone once tried to explain to me how running is a metaphor for life. Something about only really competing against yourself, pushing to continue when you just want to stop, and the sense of accomplishment at the finish line. Not going to lie, the metaphor just didn’t sink in. Life isn’t a well groomed path where the only real obstacles are based on your own physical and mental toughness – at least not my life.
Last Saturday I had the chance to run another 5K with my wife and several friends. This was a different sort of race called The Dirty Dash. Participants can choose the 3.5 or 5.5 mile version (we wimped out and opted for the shorter run). The race began by running (by that I mean stumbling, slipping and sliding) up a muddy embankment with water spraying overhead. There were no smooth paths here; instead we encountered dusty, grimy and swamping trails. Obstacles are placed throughout the race including stacked hay bales to climb over, murky pools where you sink two feet deep into sucking sludge, slimy mud walls often only scalable with the help of someone on top, and a 200 foot waterslide where you get hosed down right before being jettisoned into another hazel colored pond of soot and soil.
It’s physically and mentally exhausting. It’s oddly therapeutic. It’s a blast!
No one gets through the race unscathed, scratches and scrapes are common. To say participants get dirty is an understatement. Mud cakes your shoes and clothes, weighs you down, and saps your energy with every step. It clumps in your hair, smudges your face, and obscures your vision. The occasional water break is a welcomed respite as much to quench your thirst as to be used to clean your face and hands.
Some of the obstacles feel impossible to conquer. You get through by laughing, or crying or grunting. You overcome the challenges with the help of your friends and teammates. Often you get a boost from a total stranger. In return, you turn back and lend a hand to the random guy or girl behind you as they struggle to make the climb.
You don’t always clear a hurdle on the first try, so you step back, take a deep breath and try again. Sometimes when you see an obstacle on the horizon you smile and say “bring it on!” Other times you see an obstacle and exasperatedly exclaim “You’ve got to be kidding me.” You leap over some hurdles with ease as others struggle to do the same. Then you find yourself clawing, fighting and crawling along while other people sail past.
Finishing the race is great, but it’s not really the point. The joy comes in the journey, in the doing, in the accomplishing, in the overcoming. It comes through the experiences and comradery discovered along the way. It seems to me that life feels far less like a marathon sprint and far more like a dirty dash.
Running the Dirty Dash was on my 2014 Bucket List. Good job me!