Work/Life Integration


My dear friend introduced me by e-mail to an incredible professor at Wharton, Stewart Friedman.  I read his book about work and life integration and immediately logged onto Amazon to order copies to pass along to others.  On a run with my B Inspired friends, we talked about Stewart Friedman and his integration principles.  My friend’s husband had heard Stewart speak and she agreed that these principles and his model were what we were all striving to achieve.

Stewart Friedman’s book, Total Leadership, is a powerful collection of interviews of well-known and famous living figures.  He interviewed political figures, business leaders and professional athletes about work/ life integration.  These incredible leaders are firmly committed to integrating what is most important in their lives into their work – and it shows.  Case in point, Michelle Obama, who was an admired and adored First Lady, successful in her own career as an attorney and community leader and first and foremost, a devoted mother of two daughters.  She has committed her life to raising her daughters, supporting her husband’s political career, giving back to her community in Chicago, and creating wellness programs for American Children because the cause is near and dear to her heart.

It was fascinating to read about Michelle Obama, in part, because she is unapologetic about being a devoted wife and mother first.  As a working wife and mother of four I often qualify my answers to questions about work /life “balance” with excuses or apologies of sorts.  “Balance” is the word I have used in the past to describe what we all do in life, which is juggle our priorities.  That is true of men and women –working, single, married, at-home and with or without children!  What reading Friedman’s book helped me understand is that when we speak of balance we often feel that in order to give more to one priority, we tip the scales and take away from another priority.  This concept deeply resonated as I have left jobs in the past when the “balance” has felt out of whack.  So as Amy and I embark on this journey of B Inspired we continue to seek out opportunities to integrate our priorities and values into our work /life.

What I love most about our B Inspired community is that we can accept imperfection and growing pains since we have all experienced a bump or two on the road in our lives.

As I write this blog, Amy and I are on the airplane to California with our two giggly seven year olds sitting in the row in front of us playing cards.  Family is most important for Amy and for me and having our daughters join us for the wellness festival in LA is not only special, it is an important step towards work/life integration.  We are certain that integration is a key element of happy working lives and so we have created programs for kids (our kids included) to join in some of the B Inspired activities and adventures, like Spartans training and races and wellness festivals which are family-friendly.  We already build in top priorities of wellness such as fitness and meditation so incorporating family is the next step. 

What I love most about our B Inspired community is that we can accept imperfection and growing pains since we have all experienced a bump or two on the road in our lives.  So, this trip to California with two seven year olds, and work around the clock and an incredibly important event on Saturday, may have a few bumps and a little imperfection.  However, we will learn and grow along this journey of integration and Amy and I will come back having shared an important weekend with our girls and giving them an experience to see what we do when we go away to California.  Don’t worry – it’s not all work for the girls as there will be a quick detour to the American Girl Doll Store in LA!

Elizabeth HarrisComment