I’ve been a fan of Bruce Springsteen since the beginning. I’m also a firm believer in work-life integration. The two collide in a new book, Leading the Life You Want by Stewart Friedman, the founding director of the Wharton Leadership Program and Wharton's Work/Life Integration Project. It seems The Boss has much to teach people about work-life balance, and Friedman’s book provides the vehicle – and the theory – behind it.
Using the word ‘balance’ implies competition between the different realms of our lives and suggests that we will inevitably face trade-offs. Who wants that? We have to stop thinking Either/Or, and start thinking And/And. Drive your work and your life. Integrate them because you want to be the best at everything – the best friend, the best partner, the best parent, the best business person.
Friedman couches this notion in terms of finding harmony between four domains: work, home, community and the private self. No sacrifices required. He uses examples of successful people (former Bain & Company CEO and Bridgespan co-founder Tom Tierney, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, non-profit leader and US Navy SEAL Eric Greitens, US First Lady Michelle Obama, soccer champion-turned-broadcaster Julie Foudy and Bruce Springsteen) to show how they integrate different parts of their life to their advantage.
Friedman writes about how these people exemplify a set of skills as a means to find harmony: be real, be whole and be innovative. In order, being authentic by knowing what is important to you, your values and your vision; acknowledging the different parts of your life and how they affect each other; and learning new things and experimenting with new ways of getting things done.
Bruce Springsteen makes a comment that two of the best days of his life were the day he picked up the guitar and the day he learned to put it down. Friedman notes that Springsteen was very fortunate to find his voice and identity in that guitar, and later in life when he became a father, he made a deliberate and important choice to change and make room for other things in his life.
People are reaping the benefits work-life integration everywhere. Instead of thinking about how all the different parts of your life are banging up against each other, think about how they complement each other. The half-glass-full approach is rich with opportunities.