Review: How to make work-life balance work

Speaker: Nigel Marsh
Date: May 2010
Location: Sydney, Australia

Description from TED website:
Work-life balance, says Nigel Marsh, is too important to be left in the hands of your employer. Marsh lays out an ideal day balanced between family time, personal time, and productivity — and offers some stirring encouragement to make it happen.

Select the image to go to the actual video.

My Review / Notes / Thoughts

We are all looking to find some way to balance our work-life commitments. Easier said than done, right?

Mr. Marsh’s talk, while over a decade old, still is extremely relevant to this day and age we find ourselves in … perhaps even more relevant!

One of his first statements he made that really caught my attention was:

“All the discussions about flexi-time or dress-down Fridays or paternity leave only serve to mask the core issue, which is that certain job and career choices are fundamentally incompatible with being meaningfully engaged on a day-to-day basis with a young family.”

It’s all about choices, right? It’s about the decisions we make on a daily basis. It’s about taking responsibility for those choices. If we allow others to make the choices for us, it is still our responsibility – because we allowed it to happen.

Mr. Marsh has struggled with and studied this issue and even written a book on the topic:

Fat, Forty, and Fired – by Nigel Marsh.
Click to view at Amazon.

So in this TED Talk, he discusses his four observations on the issues of work-life balance.

  1. “If society [is] to make any progress on this issue, we need an honest debate.”
  2. “We need to face the truth that governments and corporations aren’t going to solve this issue for us.”
  3. “We have to be careful with the time frame that we choose upon which to judge our balance.”
  4. “We need to approach balance in a balanced way.”

Amidst the discussion of the points, he made another striking statement:

“It’s up to us as individuals to take control and responsibility for the type of lives that we want to lead.”

It’s up to us … individually … we cannot rely on anyone else. Sure, others will lead us if we give them the chance, and then we’ve given up our control – but it’s still our responsibility because we were the ones to give away that control.

“The small things matter”

This last statement really drove it home for me. Our choices can be small – but they matter. Every choice matters … even making small gestures of kindness matter.

Yes, it is possible to find a balance between work and life. But it is a daily process and it requires thoughtful attention to the choices you make.

Photographer: Aziz Acharki | Source: Unsplash

This TED Talk was really thought-provoking for me (although I probably didn’t write down every thought that occurred). Please take the time to watch the video for yourself and reflect on the concepts he provides.

Until next time … live long life-learner!

Review: Forget the pecking order at work

Speaker: Margaret Heffernan
Date: May 2015
Location: Monterey, California

Description from TED website:
Organizations are often run according to "the super chicken model," where the value is placed on star employees who outperform others. And yet, this isn't what drives the most high-achieving teams. Business leader Margaret Heffernan observes that it is social cohesion — built every coffee break, every time one team member asks another for help — that leads over time to great results. It's a radical rethink of what drives us to do our best work, and what it means to be a leader. Because as Heffernan points out: "Companies don't have ideas. Only people do."

Select the image to go to the actual video.

My Review / Notes / Thoughts

As she started in her talk, she discussed an experiment that a biologist conducted with chickens. He had two groups, the “average” group of chickens and the “super chickens” which were the high producing chickens. With both groups, he allowed them to go out to six generations, leaving the “average” group alone, but only keeping the highest producing chickens in the “super chicken” group. As you listen to the story, you initially think that the “super chicken” group will have the highest yield… but it didn’t, because those chickens in the “super chicken” group pecked their competitors to death, leaving only three chickens.

Does that concept sound familiar to you? It certainly did to me!

As Margaret continued her talk, she provided more examples of studies and situations which backed the concepts she presented. The MIT research showed that really successful teams had three things in common.

  1. High degrees of social sensitivity to one another
  2. Each team member had roughly equal time so that no one voice dominated
  3. The more successful groups had more women in them (either due to more empathy or greater diversity)

So what does this all mean? She boils it down to the concept of “Social Capital.” The more successful teams work on developing social capital, and as she mentions repeatedly, social capital is something that grows the more you spend it – it compounds over time.

How much social capital do you have at your work/school/etc.?

Does your environment value everyone’s perspective? Or are there are few stand-out “stars” that get all the attention?

What is the standard that everyone works towards? Is it the best imaginable? Or is it just “good enough” to get it done?

And does your team get to focus on the work without having those that hold (i.e. “power holders”) butt in and disrupt the team’s flow and efforts?

I love the statement she made at the end of her presentation, which is more important now than ever before.

“Now we need everybody, because it is only when we accept that everybody has value that we will liberate the energy and imagination and momentum we need to create the best beyond measure.”

Photographer: William Moreland | Source: Unsplash

Don’t get caught in the “super chicken” trap. Remember that everyone has value and they should have the opportunity to offer their perspectives.

Until next time … live long life-learner!

What is the “Double Bind”?

Photo by Bella White from Pexels

While the phrase “Double Bind” might conger up images of ropes and knots, that’s not exactly what the terminology means.

So what is “Double Bind”?

According to the dictionary, it is “a situation in which a person is confronted with two irreconcilable demands or a choice between two undesirable courses of action.”

So while anyone can face a double bind, this article is focusing on how it affects women in the workforce. In this case, it is referring to situations that women in the workforce frequently find themselves.

This is a hurdle that, while faced by many women, is one that must be overcome by those who aspire to leadership roles. The hurdle is not merely to be overcome though, it becomes a balancing act for those women once they are in leadership roles.

Photo by fauxels from Pexels

When it comes to women in leadership roles, the double bind is referring to gender stereotypes. A man who takes charge is seen as strong, decisive, and assertive. However, if a woman portrays the same exact traits she may be seen as a competent leader, but she will often times be disliked. If instead, she is nurturing, emotional, and communicative she will be well-liked, but her competency as a leader will be viewed as diminished.

In other words, women as leaders are typically seen as either competent or likable. Very rarely in today’s society can a woman leader be seen as both.

The following is a wonderful infographic explaining the double-bind dilemma.

Catalyst, The Double-Bind Dilemma for Women in Leadership (August 2, 2018).

Looking for resources to learn more or learn how you can be a part of the solution?

Personally, I’m still learning about the phenomenon. The LinkedIn Learning path was when I really first heard the terminology…although I’ve been aware of the concept for many years. So while this isn’t an all-encompassing article on the topic, I hope that it was enlightening and piqued your curiosity to learn more about the issue.

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