A great benefit to working for a company like Apple is our employer’s understanding that leading a satisfying and fulfilling life outside of work leads to more productive and better work while on the job. However, it must also be remembered that Apple is a tech titan and it’s quite easy to get lost in the whirlwind of deadlines and demands that a fast-paced industry leader like ours will stipulate. In this great article on becoming a better leader through leading a more fulfilling life, Stewart D. Friedman, argues we must stop considering ‘work’ to be the antithesis of ‘life’. We must stop operating under a mentality that finding a balance between these two is a zero-sum game.
Instead, ‘work’ is one of four domains that lead to satisfaction in our lives; the others are ‘home,’ ‘community,’ and ‘self’, and instead of trying to achieve a balance between the four, Friedman advocates using small scale experimentation in different activities and ways we go utilize our time to achieve ‘four-way wins’. In the article he offers an example of a professional, Kenneth, achieving a four-way win through his decision to join a local community board. The benefit to his connection to community is obvious, but it also benefited Kenneth in the work domain because the board was specifically selected to develop his leadership skills and in consultation with his company directors who had participated on community boards in the past. It benefited his home because it gave him and his fiancee a shared activity and gave him a common subject of discussion for him and his sister, a public school special-ed teacher. It benefitted the domain of self because he found he had greater personal satisfaction. Instead of needing to balance this activity against others, a holistic approach allowed him to be more efficient with his time and have far-reaching impact in all domains of his life.
The article details a strategy for selecting which experiments to try out and how to assess if they are working or not. It reminded me of my trial for meditation-commiting myself to meditate 30 minutes every day in the month of July. Although 30 minutes seemed like a huge amount of time I found that the benefits more than made up for it. In the domains of work and self my thoughts were clearer and more immediately apparent—I spent less time thinking of how to accomplish projects throughout the day because I already dedicated time in the beginning of my day for mental space. It also benefited my ‘home’, I was talking with my family more frequently because I was consciously thinking about them more frequently. There was an indirect benefit for my ‘community’; I was more patient with host-country volunteers and present in the community work we were doing on a day-to-day basis even when it would have previously felt as if we had stagnated. When July finished, I maintained my daily practice, recognizing the value it brought to all areas of life.
Finding these four-way wins require experimentation and values clarification. Its not something you can simply think your way into. It’s an active process and it results in small wins and small learns. But these wins and learns add up to dramatic realignments in life over time. I recommend this article.