A SIMPLE PURPOSEFUL FOCUS LEADS TO WORK LIFE BALANCE
I have a friend who just bought a beautiful Audi R8; it’s a highly efficient and compelling automobile. Its engine makes an incredible 199 kW at 6,500 rpm, and a torque of 330 Nm at 4000 rpm. Now you might wonder what does this machine have to do with work life balance?
Well, part of the reason this car is so efficient and powerful, and part of what makes us human beings comparatively inefficient, is the fact that it car has aa simple purpose — and that purpose is exceedingly clear – it has to go very fast down the street.
As a general principle , no machine can be optimally efficient at more than one thing.
If you designed a robot that has to both climb stairs and cook pancakes it would be far less efficient than two distinct machines. One robot for climbing stairs and another to cook pancakes. The more restricted the goals and targets, the higher potential for maximum efficiency.
People aren’t machines. Our intelligences are not designed to be maximally efficient at just one thing. Our amazing cognitive and emotional brain is an incredible generalist. We have the gift for a huge assortment of possible activities: to write a fiction, spearfish, bring up small children, drive very fast cars, sit in a high-rise agency penning reports, lie in a shack in New Guinea, marriage, solve a homicide, live in an ice cave, move into politics, or expand a small business into the Asia market. YOu name it, people, someone somewhere, can do it.
THE OTHER SIDE OF THE COIN
There is a downside to this amazing gift. The toll we pay for being generalists is that we just are as effective when we do many things as is someone who did simply one thing their whole life.
We might not be the very best at keeping the house clean, we might be a bit late for the party, we’ll not be perfect, patient, and interesting dinner friends, we’ll mess up the public presentation again, the other person will probably be better at this or that.
Yet to just focusing on one thing, to the exclusion all others, has its costs as well. There’s a cost to being the human machine equivalent to the sports car.
Unfortunately, our society has set up an nonsensical notion – that it will be possible to do many things and do them all well. Take it from someone who has tried to live that way. It is exhausting and not effective. It leads to burn out. Burn out in our physical well being, our mental well being, and in our work and relationships.
That’s why we hear so much better talk about an elusive state called: “work life balance“. The perfect equilibrium between work and personal life. This is a mad idea!
Work life balance is impossible because everything around is us fighting for our attention. We’re not going to be a once the ideal domestic person, child carer, and CEO. If we’re strung out across multiple roles, they will all suffer. Guess what – that’s okay.
You don’t need equilibrium if you have Purpose and you prioritize. So long as you are focused on your mission and you give the time, effort, and attention to your main priorities, you are achieving work life balance.