Work-Life Merger

For the next two weeks of dynamic discussion on #LeadershipChat (on Twitter, 8 pm ET, Tuesday nights), we’ll be talking about work-life balance.

This is a complex topic and there are very smart people who have put a lot of thought into it. So, why not make it more complex? Let’s think a bit about work-life merger.

Have you ever watched Little House on the Prairie? During the pre-industrial age in our country, the whole distinction between work and life was probably little discussed. Life was work, work was life. As transportation became more efficient, however, and as goods began to be manufactured in large-scale ways (as opposed to, say, an agrarian society and localized work), work became a distinct entity apart from the rest of one’s “life.”

Yes, I know that’s a bit of an oversimplification, but bear with me a bit.

What many of us are now asking, in the knowledge/network era, is this….is such a distinction as meaningful as it once was?

As long as we are working for someone else – some larger corporation or entity – we are trading certain levels of our expertise for money in a format that separates us, somehow, from home, family, and personal time. Hence the work-life balance.

But now, many of us work for ourselves – work on project basis instead of employee basis – we trade our expertise for money in a fashion that allows us to not necessarily be away (in some rigid 9-5 fashion) from “home.” The digitally-networked world enables this.

For some, this opens up an even larger Pandora’s box – are we ever off the clock, then? Are we bound to our work 24/7 because we’re always only a smartphone ping away?

I prefer to think of it in a more positive fashion. Like the farmer of old, my work is my life. It’s my field, I work it in the way that I choose to. I work whenever, and from wherever, I wish. If I am inspired at 5 in the morning to write, I write. If I take a few hours in the afternoon (as I did yesterday) to assemble a trampoline with my boys, I do so. I don’t really think much about work-life balance, because it’s just living and working with a lot more freedom to make choices.

Not everyone has this luxury – yet. Or is it a luxury? Maybe it’s part of what we’re looking for, with this elusive work-life balance. Yes, I am a strong advocate of entrepreneurship. Because I think that people are happier working their own field, and living on their own farm.

Rigid externally-imposed work environments, by definition, will limit freedom of choice and the ability to find personal balance. I applaud individuals and companies that try to figure it out. But I really prefer life-work.

Join us tonight (July 26th) at 8 pm ET for #LeadershipChat on Twitter. We will focus on the topic of Work-Life Balance – and, be sure to read my  Lisa Petrilli’s post entitled Leadership in the Age of Work-Family Conflict.

Plus – we’re going to try something new this week and “chat” on Google Plus at the same time we’re on Twitter!

At 8:00 pm ET, 8:15 pm ET, 8:30 pm ET and 8:45 pm ET Lisa I will ask the same question on Google Plus that we’ll be asking on Twitter.  You can find me on Google Plus at www.gplus.to/connectionagent – Lisa is www.gplus.to/lisapetrilli.  Find us, Circle Us, and watch for our posts at those 4 times tonight!

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