Often, I am asked the question, “how do you balance all the things going on in your life?” My answer usually ranges from ‘it’s all about organization”, “I have a great team”, “by keeping balance in a non-traditional way”, or something along those lines. Though I wear many different stilettos, there are a few steadfast rhyme-and-reasons to my approach in each business (and life) segment. These fundamentals win every time… at work and beyond.
1. Conversations are key.
Difficult subject? Address it anyway – always with dignity and respect. Difference of opinion? Find a common ground – even if it means you agree to disagree. Alliances can be built with associates whose opinion may differ when respect is given and expected in return.
2. Own your existence.
There may come a time when you must defend your position. Know the details of what you bring (and have brought) to the table. The adage, ‘what have you done for me lately’ holds true, but if you’ve done it before, you can do it again. If you make a mistake (who hasn’t made a mistake?), own it, fix it, and move on. There are no free rides so step up and stand out.
3. Know when to talk and when to SHUT UP.
We all know someone who believes it necessary to fill every moment with a sound bite about their opinion, ideas, what she said, what he did, what should be done, what can be done better, blah blah blah. They try to monopolize the conversation by using filler words, such as ‘um’ and ‘so’ as if they are about to say the most profound thing ever. Certainly, assuming an active role is pertinent to owning your existence but remember if you are talking, you are not listening. When you do speak, let your comments sit a bit before moving on. In the words of Gandhi, “speak only if it improves upon the silence.”
4. You are your own secret recipe.
Every secret recipe begins with experimenting, tasting, and trying on. The best ones have ‘a whole lot of love in it’. Approach your plan with care and concern for your colleagues, clients, customers, consumers and everyone around you.
Some things will come naturally to you…some will not. Here’s the solution: work on your strengths and bring them to the highest level of excellence; and build a relationship with someone who can fill the gap for you. Creating a productive partnership means you fill a gap for them, too. The result? Stronger together.
5. Leadership is nothing if you don’t lead.
While you may not be in a formal leadership role but trust me … you are leading (if no one but yourself). If you want to move up and on, leading others must be part of the equation. Informal leadership can hold a lot of weight among your colleagues and contemporaries if they find you knowledgeable and trustworthy – the formal role may come later. Don’t overlook soft skills and how emotional intelligence comes into play. Parlaying the emotions (thinking and behavior) of others into a tangible asset of production is a key in propelling business (and life) forward.
6. Find joy in every day.
Is every day filled with balloons and rainbows? Of course, not. However, joy is a natural high that makes us a pleasure to be around and work with. One of the best ways to find joy is to remain in a state of thankfulness – even when things don’t turn out the way we envisioned. Keep things in perspective. Missing the mark provides a learning and growing experience for the next opportunity.
7. Understand Balance.
Balance, in the traditional way of thinking, is a farce. Often, we define balance as equally distributing our day among tasks. It’s time we re-think our thinking on the subject.
There will be days when a project takes 80% of our time, leaving 20% dedicated to the peripherals. The same holds true for work/life balance. Successful balance results in prioritizing and executing the tasks at hand. Time block can be useful for those who struggle with managing the daily tasks – regardless of how you ‘split’ up the day.
8. Be true to yourself.
I believe we find the best success when the components of life meld together. It’s hard to compartmentalize each aspect of life. In other words, acting one way at home, another way at work, and yet another way with friends is an exhausting proposition. It brings about undue stress when working to keep all the components separated. Instead, be true to yourself. Be who you are. Embrace who you want to be. And let YOU shine through in each area of life.
9. Embrace the expanding demographic around you.
Society is progressive. To operate successfully as part of the new normal, it is important to embrace the changes. The tapestry of beautiful people will continue to grow. Cultural, gender, race, and the multi-generational workplace will continue to be a force of the future. You will not win if you are not willing to embrace and learn from others. Even in settings where you are ‘on your own’ – you’re really not ‘on your own’. You can’t possibly know everything about everything and will need to call on someone for assistance at some point. A well-versed person can have engaging interactions with a variety of people – even if you spend most of the time listening.
10. Celebrate Change.
The only thing constant is change. You have two choices: go with it; or fight against it and ultimately you will have to change anyway; or leave and go somewhere else – where there will be change. In the business classic, Who Moved My Cheese, Hem rebelled against change almost starving in the process, only to find that ultimately nothing stays the same forever. Get your copy here:
The quest to reach our personal and professional best success is a constant journey along the continuum. Let each stop become the new launch pad to better. How will you win at work?