Lead the Life You Want: A Big Think Mentor Workshop, with Stewart D. Friedman

Stewart D. Friedman: The problem with the phrase work-life balance is that it connotes tradeoff, right. So in the world of work/life balance it’s zero sum. Your work and the rest of your life. So you could be doing really great in your work – you’re getting more money, more power, more responsibility, more challenge and what’s wrong with this picture? What’s wrong with this picture is what’s happening here? The rest of your life is not doing too well. So the idea with balance is that when you think in terms of an equilibrium you’re always thinking about how you can trade one for the other. And I prefer to think instead about the idea of harmony or integration and the pursuit of what I call Four-Way Wins. So that means for you to think about where is it possible? Where do I have a degree of control to be able to make things a little bit better for me personally – my mind, body and spirit. Also for my family, however you define that. For your community and for your work and your career.

So it’s about looking for opportunities to make things better at work, at home, in the community and for yourself – a Four-Way win rather than assuming that you’ve got to trade one for the other. And I find that when you take that point of view – when you put on a set of lenses that, you know, allows you to look for where is there a possibility in my world to make a positive impact in all the different parts of my life. Well then you’re much more likely to find them, aren’t you, then if you would just assume that they don’t exist.

So what we found from research in the field with real people in all different kinds of organizations and at every different stage of life is that what it takes to lead the life you want, to pursue these Four-Way Wins there are three principles that are critical. The first is to be real which is to act with authenticity by clarifying what matters most to you, your vision and values. To be whole which means to act with integrity as one, right. The Latin root of the word integrity is one. So respecting the whole, the different parts of your life - your work as well as your community, your family and your personal life. And then to be innovative, to act with creativity by continually experimenting with how you get things done. Constantly learning through trial and error. Challenging the status quo and looking for better ways to get things done that work for you and for the world around you. So those three principles are critical – to be real, to be whole and to be innovative.

Most of us are striving to create a greater sense of harmony. And it is indeed in the pursuit of doing something meaningful with the gifts, the talents, the passions that you’ve got and converting whatever it is that you’ve been born with and continually learning how to bring it to the world in a more productive and fruitful way. That is what I discovered in my most recent book, the key to leading the life you want. It’s kind of a paradox. By taking what you have and finding ways of making it useful in the service of other people, that’s how we end up leading the lives that we want.

Directed / Produced by Jonathan Fowler, Elizabeth Rodd, and Dillon Fitton

 

In this 4-part Big Think Mentor workshop Stewart D. Friedman teaches us the skills we need to harmoniously integrate work and life. In this lesson Friedman introduces us to the three areas one needs to polish to ensure four-way wins. Friedman is a professor at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania and the founding director of the Wharton Leadership Program. He is the author of Leading the Life You Want: Skills for Integrating Work and Life.

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