When I used to hear the term ‘work/life’ integration (or balance), I conjured up images of responsibilities to family, home life and friends integrating with our life’s work and purpose. Today’s focus on corporate social responsibility and individual service means tomorrow’s integration (or balance) may extend into our broader communities as well.
Living in a future where society embraces honoring ourselves and loved ones, honoring our life’s work, as well as honoring service to others is an exciting proposition!
Purposeful living in personal, work and service life creates a special harmony allowing me to bring my best to all areas. It is possible for service to others to move beyond a single activity we participate in occasionally, to a valued engagement that is part of the natural fabric our lives.
'It is possible for service to others to move beyond a single activity we participate in occasionally, to a valued engagement that is part of the natural fabric our lives.'
I further realized the benefits of purposefully integrating service to others to create that harmony during this month’s Girl Scouts of NY Leadership Institute's 2016 graduation ceremony.
My role as emcee was to enchant an auditorium full of scouts, families, friends, board members and supporters during a festive evening. But it was I who was enchanted by what the scouts and their families gave me.
At the ceremony, weaving the story of how 50 scouts developed into bonafide leaders over 18 months was a simple task. I introduced videos chronicling camping trips and robotics events, and guided their parents’ ‘testimonials’ on growth they’ve seen in their teenagers. One mom shared that her daughter, who previously didn’t exactly prioritize neatness, has a newfound appreciation for making up the bed every morning. Another parent shared with the room the challenge her daughter had meeting peers since recently moving from the west coast to New York, and how the GSLI program infused her with confidence to make new friends.
I was most touched by a remarkable grandmom who approached me after the graduation. A girl scout in 1950s Harlem, she said that her granddaughter today has access to more role models and exposure to more careers than she could have imagined as a teenager. She thanked me, my firm and all our volunteers for contributing to this.
I felt a surge of gratitude to know Thomson Reuters Leadership Coaching Circles, led by our women in STEM (Science, Tech, Engineering and Math), had such an impact on the GSLI members.
That’s when I really got it! Alignment between my work (exposing audiences to innovative technologies through content creation), my service (exposing communities, in this case Girl Scouts, to information through educational program creation) and abundance in my personal/family life affords me the opportunity to bring compassion and goodwill to the table as a professional, as a volunteer and as an individual.
‘Alignment between work, service and personal/family life affords me the opportunity to bring compassion and goodwill to the table’
This alignment takes even greater significance considering recent discussions around the value of authenticity (See Brene Brown's LinkedIn Pulse article).
Boldly bringing the authentic self in work/life/service integration creates energy that fuels my efforts and keeps me in a constant state of learning and self-improvement. Participating in a corporate environment that is also aligned with supporting this is especially gratifying.
Alignment, authenticity and continual self-improvement are good for careers, communities and individuals.
How do you recommend we create a future where service is embraced and included in the ‘work/life’ integration equation?