Monday, May 26, 2014

Your life's work is not balance. It's influence.

There are many sources of information on how to balance life and work, as if being paid for something automatically meant being less alive while you do it.  Work involves effort that gets results, and life involves staying alive, which often involves making money, which means doing work.

What you are doing at work - right now, in the job for which you earn money - is your life's work. It's the work you do with your breath and your thought and your time and your effort. It's a big part of who you are and how you are and even how you relate to friends or family.  Your life's work is your work. And despite the best efforts at contracting out and delegating, you can't make more of your life to make up for the life you give to your work.

As human beings, we all come with a built in program for our life's work. We are all highly sensitive to our connectedness to other people (whether or not we see that as a benefit). Our life's work is to have influence on the people around us, either directly (by making change happen in them) or indirectly (by changing circumstances, environments or stuff so that change happens in other people). We are all in the business of influence, and our life is not so much traded for that influence as lived through the building and exchange of influence. We are the influence we experience - as givers and as receivers.

It's time to stop balancing life against non-life. Instead, wonder how to have the influence you want to have, so that your life's work has the impact that you want to have. Think of it as doing your part of the contract you have with life - that mysterious concept that created you and sustains you and will one day end your work. The influence you have on your clients, customers, co-workers, communities, employees, supervisors and bosses is the work you are doing with your life.

You are also doing your life's work when you go home and change people's lives there. Your life's work is what changes in others because they have some connection with you. How's yours coming?

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