Leader Newsletter April 2018 Part 1
Forget about the work-life balance
The work-life balance is a myth. Work isn’t something that stands apart from our lives. We believe that fulfilment in our personal and professional lives mean that we should give both equal weight and priority. This creates a false duality between two choices and leads to constant feelings of doubt, because we can’t be in both worlds 100% of the time.
What we need is work-life harmony (the quality of forming a pleasing and consistent whole – Oxford Dictionary). Work-life harmony is seated in a holistic and integrated approach to life where work and play are combined in combinations unique to each individual. We can therefore not define harmony, but here are five ways in which you can discover it for yourself.
1. Be clear about your purpose in life
You have to realise that you are important. You aren’t here by accident; you were made with a purpose. There is no one else like you on earth. If you clearly understand your purpose, it gives focus, direction and energy to each area of your life. My life purpose is to use my gifts and abilities to be a servant, leader and ambassador of God’s mercy and truth. It is the power that determines how I live. It determines my priorities, shows that my life is really important and puts everything I do into perspective.
2. Find satisfaction, not happiness
Our culture tells us that we can have everything. We are unhappy when we discover this isn’t possible. Happiness depends on your circumstances; satisfaction is the result of a deep joy and satisfaction that spreads from the knowledge that you are living your life purpose. Happiness comes and goes; satisfaction stays.
3. Understand the seasons of life
Life is defined by seasons. In the different seasons of our lives we will have different priorities. If these priorities are driven by our purpose in life, they fit together harmoniously at the right time and in the right way.
4. Establish reasonable boundaries
If you have clarity about your life purpose, your values and your beliefs, you can make wise decisions about how to use your time, talents and energy. You can establish life-work harmony by putting systems and structures in place that will allow you to focus on the important priorities in your life. Create healthy boundaries that allow you to focus in the right direction.
5. Be present
Because we function from within a framework of work-life balance, we are constantly worried about the amount of time we spend in each area. This creates tension and feelings of guilt because we always feel that our balance is off. We feel that we spend too much energy on one aspect of our lives, to the detriment of another.
It isn’t easy to reach work-life harmony. It means you have to learn what works and what doesn’t. There is constant assessment of how you spend your time and energy, but the advantage is that there is less tension, more rest for your soul and more commitment and passion in everything you do.
What happens when leaders leave their offices?
It requires love for the people and the work before a leader will leave his office. The urge to stay in your office is strong – there are many emails and meetings that require your attention. But what happens when leaders do step out of their offices?
1. They encourage the team
People are encouraged when they see that leaders are interested in their work – it shows them that leaders think their work is important. Leaders’ attention and interest encourage the team.
2. They discover surprising people.
Leaders who stay in their offices miss important interactions and observations.
3. They prevent decisions being made in isolation
Leaders who stay in their offices easily forget how far-reaching the effects of their decisions can be. If you spend time with your people, it reminds you that your decisions have an impact on them. If you leave your office, you are reminded to include others in your considerations.
4. They see things that need to be changed.
You will see where the vision was forgotten, where excellence wasn’t present and where communication failed. The office protects you against the pain of problems. Once you leave the office, you have the credibility and knowledge to handle problems effectively.
5. They have the credibility to handle problems
If you are outside the office, you gain insight into how problems should be handled. Leaders who stay in their offices don’t have the knowledge and credibility to handle these problems. Isolated leaders don’t have the emotional investment to talk about necessary changes with confidence.
How do you measure success?
We are often tempted to measure success against the standards of our culture. CS Lewis reminded his friend, Arthur Greeves: “It is not your business to succeed (no one can be sure of that), but to do right. When you have done so, the rest lies with God.” This is something that we should constantly remind ourselves about. In Revelation 12:11, in the passage about the woman and the dragon, we read: They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.
The new life that we have through Christ’s blood is how we should measure victory in this time. True success as God measures it, is the only path to true joy, even if it leads to our death. The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him (Psalm 28:7). Our joy, our victory and our success isn’t measured by the things that appear to be mighty. It is measured by the cross.
God’s mercy looks like weakness and foolishness to the world, but in truth it is this “weakness” that makes God stronger than the power of humans. Our successes are the result of the work that Christ has done in us. Joy in Christ through the power of the Spirit is true success in life.
Christ’s victory is seen in our lives as we become more and more like Him. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. (Romans 8:29). And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us (Romans 5:5).